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Full text of "Passing the Portal: Or, A Girl's Struggle : an Autobiography"

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I 






nONATHO BY THB ' Q 

NBW YORK CITT 

>ASSING THE PORTAL; 



0«, 



A GIRL'S STRUGGLE. 



(Tlhi^^ 



^n ^uto]>ia((ratrft9< 



But what wo are, and why we are) and whereforo 

We are the thing we are, behoUl, we know not, 

And grope in nature for the secret thought. 

Lzxirr. 

Where are thy bone«, Fauitino, 

And where art thaut 

BwnfBumB. 






BT 



MRS. METTA V. 



yiCTo;^- 



^ 




G. 



NBW YORK: 

JV. Carlcton (&* Co., Publishers. 

LONDON : S. LOW & CO. 
MDCCCLXXVI. 



w 



'1 



\ 



\-^ 







COPWIGHTED, iBjd, >V 

G. W. CARLtTON & CO. 



John F. Tsow A Sow, 



TO THOSE LOOKING FORWARD 



1 miebtcatt 



THIS SIMPLE STORY 



or om, WHO, 



TAUGHT BY LOVE, 



HAS PASSED THROUGH SHADOW 



niTO 



LI&ST. 



L 



CONTENTS. 



PAQB 

I.— On the Threshold 

n.— En Surpriae 23 

m.— The Woman Tempted Me 43 

IV.— Brown Eyes and Gold Hair 60 

v.— Vervelde 75 

VL — Cape- Jasmina 93 

VII.— Margaret 113 

VHL— A Summer's Night 129 

IX. — Beginning to Understand 144 

X — The Summons at Dawn 162 

XI.— The Chain Tightens 178 

XII. —Only to Break 195 

XIII.— Scarlet on the Water 210 

XIV.— The Vexed Question 223 

XV.— In Labor is Rest 289 

XVI.— The Skeleton in the Closet 252 

XVII.— Wedding Finery and a Mystery 267 

:VIII.— Christmas Chimes. 283 

XIX. —A Queen's Caprice 299 

XX.— Nettles and Swords. 815 

XXL— A Queen's Excuse 882 

XXIL— A Cluster of White Roses 846 

X:iII.--A Glad Assurance 'w 860 

5XIV.— Good-night, Sweet ! 875 

XXV.— The Day of Days 883 

CXVI.— Light through the Open Door 899 



/ 




PASSING THE PORTAL. 



CIIAPTEE I. 

ON THE THBE8U0LD. 

'^ She hams a song, and dreams that 
As in its romance old, 
Shall homeward ride with silken sails 
And masts of beaten gold.*' 




--WhiUier, 



** WhsX a day it was, that day I " 

"Mrs. Browning, 

_ T chanced to be on ray eighteenth birthday 
5^^ that I left the school where I had passed the 
last four years, and started on my twelve 
hours' journey to the new home where I was to be 
received as a member of the family. 

It was very early — only fi^® o'clock — of a delicious 
June morning, when J ^^^ placed on board the train 
and left — with many ^ ^^t afEectionate instructions 



\ 



( 



L 



10 ON THE THRESnOLD, 

as to tlie perils of travelling without an escort and 
the necessity of great discretion on my part — by the 
kind lady who had escorted me, to proceed on my 
way alone. 

This forlorn ness had a great charm for me. I 
felt it a pleasure, the keener for its novelty, to be 
absolutely independent for a short time. There were 
not more than a dozen people in the car, and these 
appeared very dull, dusty, and drowsy. 1 had a 
whole seat to myself ; and, after the conductor had 
kx)ked at and returned my ticket, I asked him to 
raise the w^indow. Then I curled up in the corner 
nearest to it and was hapj)y. The sun was up, but 
the great, wcxnly hills shut him off. The valleys 
were full of blue smoke and of shadows; the tops of 
the inountains were rosy ; little puffs of fresh air blew 
in my face, sweet with uimameable scents of young 
trees, wild flowers, and damp grasses; but I could 
sometimes define the most ethereal of all perfumes. 
that of the grape-vine in blossom; sometunes, too, 
the odor of wild roses and of fields of dew- wet clover. 
Occasionally we passed so close to some rugged 
mountain-side that I could have reached out mv hand 
and snatched off one of the long sprays of the black- 
berry, starred with its white flowers, had I deemed it 
prudent to risk a broken arm; but madame had 
warned me, as if I were a very small child indeed, 



02f THE THRESHOLD. 11 

not to protrude hand, elbow, or face an inch outside 
of the window. 

For the first two hours I felt nothing but absolute 
rapture. 

I was exhilarated by the motion of the train and 
tlie inoming air ; I was out of school, oh, joy I I was 
eighteen, and I was on the verge of very important 
affairs. HcfW important, I could not say. All girl- 
hood's enchanted realm lay before me. Of course I 
had peopled it with beautiful. and glorious beings, 
knightly lovers, girl-friends ; it was lighted by cloud- 
less sunshine and moonshine, and crowded with 
flower-gardens, music, dancing, and tlieatres. 

Now that the long and tedious routine of school 
was over, I should have nothing to do but enjoy my- 
self. Not that I intended to lead a selfish life. I 
had a great deal of religious sentiment, and I meant 
to be very good, very noble ; to help my aunt and 
love my cousins, give much time to the poor, be meek, 
patient, and dutiful. But what girl of eighteen does 
not anticipate a woman's triumph ? — ^love, admiration, 
chivalric attentions from the other sex? This is the 
too-fleeting time of her queenship ; she earns it dearly, 
too dearly ; and pays for it with the wages of all her 
life. 

But I did not philosophize then — not I. I looked 
out with delighted eyes, and within, at the muffled 



12 ON THE THRESHOLD. 

figures before me, with vague and veiled curiosity. 
If I could have found the material, I should have &et 
to work at once on the airy architecture of the imagi- 
nation and built up a castle in Spain out of very 
slight substance. But I saw nothing to pix)Voke in- 
terest until alx)ut seven a.m., when the train came 
to a stoj* ; a dictatorial bell near by jangled out hai-^h 
ordere for every one to come to breakfast, and all 
the passengei-8 in our car, save two, arose, stretched 
themselves, yawned, and hni-ried out. Among these 
was a tall gentleman, who had been rleeping with a 
ti-avelling-cap over his fjice, and which, consequently, 
I had not before seen — the face, 1 mean. 

Looking back, he caught sight of me, his gliitice 
lingered a moment, seeming to say, courteously : '• Do 
not you, too, mademoiselle, wisji breakfast I " — then, 
as I made no response, he walked out. I had taken 
a cup of coffee at the school, and now proceeded to 
lay a napkin in my lap and to eat the dainty little 
lunch which had been put up for the occasion — 
freshly-cut sandwiches, cold chicken, and a tiny 
basket of strawberries, picked that moniing with the 
dew and the moonlight on them. 

1 ha<l a very busy time thinking of the stranger, as 
I took the large sweet hemes one by one by the stem 
and ate them out of their hulls. I had believed that 
I could not travel all day without discovering at least 



ON THE THRRSnOLD. 13 

one hero, and here he was already, as if placed in this 
particular car for no other purpose than for nie to 
idealize. In my own defence let me say that now, 
with more experience, I can aver that I have yet to see 
a finer, nobler face than his; or a manner more 
winning, it being full of a courtesy which, even in a 
railroad car, had plenty of chance to show itself, in 
contrast with the boorish indifference to the needs of 
others manifested by the majority. When he returned 
from the breakfast-room he Avas carrying the dirty 
infant of a poor, pale little woman, who seemed ut- 
terly dragged out by a long journey. 

lie saw her seated and made her as comfortable as 
possible, then dashed out at the last moment to fill 
the bottle, which she timidly handed him, with fresh 
milk. He had barely time to swing himself back on 
the train after it was in motion. As he passed me 
with the bottle of milk he caught my eyes : I must 
have been smiling, for he flushed a little. 

As the sun grew hotter and more hot, I drew down 
the blind and contented myself with reading. Every 
five minutes I stole a look at my unconscious heix), 
who was also reading. I wondered if he were goiiig 
to the great city, as I was; and I made up my mind 
that I should like liim for an acquaintance, — " I shall 
be as likelv to see him uirain as to find a needle in a 
hay-mow," I reflected. 



/ 



14 oy TUB TBRESnOLD. 

" lie IB verj- nice ; but he is not altogetlier mj ideal, 
after all," I pondered, later. " Uiileee I am mistaken 
he is in tronWo, too. lie affecta to i-ead, but his 
uiiud is elsewhere — Hjlviiig eoine hard problem of 
life," — very little did I know of the knotty problems 
of life then, hut went on, in my girlish imagination, 
contrasting this stranger with lay ideal. 

' Hu broad, clear broir Id aimlight glowed ; 
On bnnuabed hoofs his wtkr-hoise tiode ; 
From nndemeatli his helmet flowed 
HU ooal-black curls as on he rode, 
As he rode down to Comelot; " 

I niiispcred to myself, dreaming of the unseen 
knight of my future. Then I began to Biieciilate on 
tliat future. I was going to live with my uncle, Dr, 
Ma.\well, of Fiftli Avennc, a wealthy man, with a 
fine reputation as a physician, and also, I had heard, 
I cannot say how, as a scientist. He had a wife, and 
two children, a son and daughter. These cousins of 
mine I had met once or twice, but not for the last 
two years, and felt very little acquainted witli them, 
indeed. Harry must now be twenty-five and 
Margaret twenty. There had been other children, 
who had died in childhotxl. 

This was the way I catno to he going to my uncle's. 
Jtly mother, who was his sister, had died when I was 



ON TUB THRESUOLD. 16 

thirteen. My father, a clergyman of the Congrega- 
tional Church, had passed away from earth two years 
before my mother. Left an orphan at so early an 
age, I was not entirely helpless ; for my mother had 
left property — inherited from her father — ^sufficient 
to pay all my school expenses and to give me there- 
after an income of about seven hundred dollars a 
year. She had made it a dying request that, after 
my school -education was completed. Uncle Maxwell 
should take me into his family and treat me as if I 
w^ere his own child. 

This he had earnestly promised to do. 

The reasons why I had not, meantime, spent my 
vacations with my relatives in the city, were these : 
I had preferred returning to the little town wliere my 
parents were buried and where 1 had many friends ; 
also, the family was never at home during the hot 
months, but travelling about, or at their country place. 
Thus it had happened that, although I had once 
. joined them in a tour to Lake George and the moun- 
tains, I had never visited them at their city house. 

This June they waited for me. Soon after my 
arrival they were going to Newport for a fortnight, 
and then to their country-seat for the remainder of 
the season. 

I was not going unwillingly to Uncle Maxwell's. I 
had extravagant ideas of the pleasant life I fehoxild 



[ 



16 ON TUB THRESHOLD. 

lead in his house. My principal fear was that I 
should make a poor appearance among people so in- 
telligent and so accustomed to a leading place in so- 
ciety. I hoped, and prayed inwardly, that my friends 
would like me. I intended to do what I could, fairly 
and without servility, to please them. I stood in 
more awe of the young people than of my aunt 'ftnd 
uncle. Yet both, as I remembered them, were kind 
and not at all overbearing. If Margaret, two years 
ago, had appeared somewhat cold and very far above 
me, that was, no doubt, because I was only a little 
girl tlien, and shy, and that she was occupied with 
other matters. 

" I hope I shall not be so shy as to be stupid," I 
said to myself. "Madame was pleased to compli- 
ment my ' deportment ' " — laughing to myself at the 
thought — "and even my looks. What wds it she 
said?— oh yes! *You have grown into a most pre- 
possessing young lady, Marion, and, I beliefe, into 
a good one, which is far more impoilant. In the 
fashionable society of our great metropolis, you will 
doubtless meet with much idle flattery. Do not let 
it make you vain or trifling. Modesty and humility 
are now two of your most excellent traits. Try 
and preserve them pure from the world.' Oh dear ! 
I wonder if Aunt Maxwell will ever talk to me in 
that 8ti*ain I " 



ON THE THREanOLD. 17 

Then I read for a half-hour, and fell to musing 
again ; and so the time roUed on, and tlie clattering 
wheels whirled monotonously, while the bunch of 
roses which I had gathered in madame's garden at 
early dawn withered in my belt, and my mouth grew 
parclied, and I was not ^orry to hear the call, " thirty 
migutes for dinner," as the train " slowed up," as I 
believe the engineer says. 

As 1 came to the car-steps there stood my hero wait- 
ing to assist me down. The woman with the baby did 
not take dinner. I followed the crowd into the long, 
sultry room and took my place at one of the tables. 
The viands did not look very inviting on this hot day, 
hut I had some iced milk, some green peas and a 
square of " strawberry-shortcake." After I had eaten 
these, I found I had almost ten minutes to spare, so 
I went to a lunch counter and bought a cup of tea, 
which I took to the drooping mother. She seemed 
pleased, and I certainly was. " The poor little fel 
low was asleep on my arm, and I could not go out 
without waking him," she said. 

On my way back with the cup my hero met me, 
and took it from my hand and returned it to the 
owners. 

I managed to reach the " finis" of my book by four 
o'clock. The last fifty pages had been but illy com- 
prehended, for the baby had been screaming in tlio 



[ 






18 oy THE THRESEOLD. 

hatefallest, most provoking manner for over an hour. 
At first I pitied him — then I grew irritated, and said 
to myself that its mother had no right to be travelling 
with a child like that, making every one else uncom- 
fortable. I am afraid there was a frown on my face 
— as I saw there was on several others — when I 
turned to look back at the howling little wretch. I 
saw that the mother was crying and looked ready to 
faint. I felt some compassion for her, if none for 
the infant ; and I arose and staggered over to her 
and said sweetly : " Let me have him a little while. 
Perhaps I can soothe him.'' 

With a l(X)k of despair she handed him up to me. 
His soiled clothes came in contact with my fresh 
travelling dress ; his tears had made mud of the dust 
on his ugly countenance, but I took him to my seat 
and put a gum-drop in his mouth and hummed a 
little droning song. The change of position may 
have eased the weary little chap ; be that as it may, 
he grew quiet, and stared about with big eyes. 
Presently he laughed confidingly in my face, and I 
felt tenderness overcoming my repugnance. In a 
little while he was asleep on my nice shawl with his 
little tow-head in my lap, and there he remained 
until we, at five o'clock, came to a standstill on tlie 
Jersey side of the river, and had to embark on the 
ferry-boat for the city. 



ON THE THRESHOLD. 19 

"I fihonldn't have been travelling with tlie poor 
child," said his mother when she came for him, " but 
his father's dead and I'm going home to mother." 

I arose to take my satchel from the rack. 

"Allow me, cousin Marion," said a clear voice, 
and an arm reached above mine and took the 
BatcheL 

I turned and shook hands with my cousin Harry. 

" I came over, because you were a stranger, and I 
thought might like company while being initiated. 
The carriage is on the ferry-boat ; so please step a 
little quick or it may go oflf without us. We'll talk 
afterwards." 

He hurried me through a quarter of a mile— it 
seemed to me— of roofed ways, and on to the boat, 
when he led me up to a small carriage, with a coach- 
man in snuff-color and silver buttons on the front 
eeat I had hardly placed myself, and was answer- 
ing his question as to my health, when I broke off 
and asked hastily : 

" Cousin Harry, who is that gentleman ? — the tall 
one with the Panama hat." 

" There are so many Panama hats ; — ah, that one. 
Why! it's my friend, Mr. Grey Grey don. Was he 
on the train ? " 

" In the sa^e car with me." 

" If we had known it wo could have arranged to 



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^■^^■^fc SSlb^ ^1^ ^^fl 






20 ON THE THRESHOLD. 

place you in his care. He would have been an ex- 
cellent travelling companion." 

" I have had the pleasure of looking at him," I 
said, demurely. 

My cousin glanced round at me as if surprised, 
and I colored. 

" lie paid me one or two trifling attentions," I 
added. 

" I dare say. Grey has something chivalric about 
him. Did you guess that he was a clergyman, 
Marion ? " 

" No, I did not, cousin Harry," I answered, suiv 
prised in turn. 

" He is very popular ; has a fashionable church 
and is idolized by the ladies. He is a frequent visitor 
at our house." 

" Oh 1 then, I shall not follow the popular example. 
I refuse from the first to idolize him," and I felt dis- 
concerted, when I recalled all that had been in m j 
thoughts that day. " Does Uncle Maxwell belong to 
his church?" 

" No, cousin," and he smiled faintly ; why^ I could 
not guess. 

" "WTiat church does he belong to ? " I presently 
inquired, wondering if the family views and mine 
would coincide. I was, after my father, a Congre- 
gationaUst. 



ON THE THRESnOLD. 21 

" We attend Christ Church occasionally," was the 
only answer which Ilarry vouchsafed to my question. 

The subject passed from my mind then, for we 
were out in the stream, and I was busy looking up and 
down the noble river, and at the shipping. A great 
steamer, crowded with people, just leaving port for 
Liverpool, passed athwart our boat and my eyes were 
fully occupied. 

So they were, after we had driven from the boat 
and up into Broadway. Everybody and every vehicle 
seemed pressing up town at that hour. It made me 
very solemn at first to see so many human beings bear- 
ing the burden and the mystery of life ; then the 
tliought came across me that ninety- nine out of every 
hundred were absorbed in anticipations of dinner, 
and I laughed. 

" What pleases you, Marion ? " 

"So many people going to dinner, Cousin Ilarry." 

"Is that the effect a firet sight of Broadway pro- 
duces on you?" 

"Yes, monsieur," I answered, meekly ; nor hinted 
at the awe and depressing sense of immortal mortality 
wliich, at first, had brought the tears to my eyes. 

It was a long drive to Twenty-fourth Street. My 
cousin kindly pointed out tlie objects of interest as we 
passed along : the famous public buildings, great dry- 
goods stores, Grace Church and the Fifth Avenue 



f 



22 ON THE TURESnOLD, 

Hotel, at the north comer of which we turned into 
what Harry called " our street ! " 

Then I became pale and cold ; too dumb to answer 
him or hear what he was saying. He chatted on ; — 
doubtless he could not realize the importance of the 
next few minutes to me. I was approaching my 
future home. It might be for weal or woe. Much of 
ray happiness would depend on my first impressions. 
Hope was uppennost, for I had every reason to antici- 
pate a pleasant future. My own heart was full of 
affection and a desire to be loved as really one of 
the family ; if they felt as I did there could never bo 
any trouble. 

The carriage drew up before one of the stately 
brown-stone residences ; the coachman descended and 
opened the door. 

"AVliy, Marion, are you frightened ?" 

"Not frightened, Harry, but — but nervous, I dare 
sav." 

" Your roses have taken most sudden flight. Cheer 
up, cousin, this is Jwvie^ as much for you as for me," 
and he got hold of my trembling hand, pressing it 
reassuringly. 




CHAPTER II. 



EN SURPBISE. 



'* Where wreathed friezes intertwine 
The Tiol, the yiolet, and the yine.*' 



s « 



** Bat upon thy youthful forehead 
Something like a shadow lies ; 
And a serioua soul is looking 
From thy earnest eyes. 



— JiMl 



" Early hath life's mighty question 

Thrilled witliin thy heart of youth, 
With a deep and strong beseeching : 
What and where is truth ? " 



— WhitUer. 



Y coiisin Margaret met me at the door of the 
reception -r(K)in. She placed her arms about 
me, drew me gently to her, and kissed me. 
All was done with a composure and vet earnestness 
peculiar to her. I returned her kiss with interest, 
and with the ardor which made me very unlike her in 




f 



24 EN 8UHPRTSE, 

manner. A person whom Margaret caressed or paid 
any small attention to would feel honored, as if a 
princess had bestowed a boon. 

" Mamma has visitors in the drawing-room. Come 
up to your room and change your dress, if you wish. 
We have delayed dinner half an hour, to give you a 
little time. 

" But my trunks ! " 

" They w^ill be here in a few minutes, — that is, if 
you gave your checks to Ilarr}'." 

" I did ; and he handed them to a person in the 
depot" 

" Are you very tired ? " she asked, as I followed her 
up a flight of broad stairs that ran up from a side 
hall behind the reception-room — for the house was a 
double one. 

" I ought to be tired ; I have been going since four 
this morning. But I am too excited to realize it, I 
sup{)06e." 

" This is your very own room," she continued, open- 
ing a door to the left, on the first landing. " Xo one 
can intrude here but by permission of your ladyship." 

She led the way in, and I followed, breathing a 
deep sigh of delight, when I stood in the centre of 
the room and looked about me. It was of ample size 
for a city apartment, and well lighted by two large 
windows with inside blinds of black walnut and cur- 



EN SURPRISE. 25 

tains of dotted muslin, ruffled and tied back with pale 
blue ribbon. The carpet was white, with pale-bluo 
marguerites strewn over it, and a border of faint 
pink rosebuds a^id green leaves. The walls were 
pearl-tinted, with a light gilded cornice, and beneath 
the cornice a running wreath, painted by hand, of 
the most delicate rosebuds, marguerites, and flax- 
flowers. The furniture was of silver-wood and curled 
maple, hung with cretonne, pearl-colored, with flax 
flowers. 

" It is a fairy chamber ! " I cried. 

" Well, a fairy is to occupy it, and I believe she 
will prove to be a good fairy. See ! This door com- 
mimicates witli my room, so that you will be, as it 
were, under my wing." 

" I am afraid I shall be too happy here." 

" I assure you there is no danger of that. Did you 
ever hear of a mortal overburdened with bliss?" 

She spoke gayly and yet sadly. Could it be that 
my cousin, with apparently every earthly thing to make 
her happy, was not contented ? I looked at her moro 
earnestly. To my eyes her beauty was absolutely fault- 
less ; and I soon found that I was only one of many 
who thought so. She was tall, and carried herself 
with a haughty grace ; her hair was like the night, so 
dusky and perfumed ; her complexion clear and pale ; 

her eves dark as her hair and full of changing expres- 

'2 



20 EN SURPRISE. 

Bioiis — beautiful, dazzling eyes that alone would have 
won her the fame of loveliness. There was power in 
her face, too-— the power of intellect and character. 
She seemed to me much older than I, and yet she 
was only a year older. I was certain that she was six 
times as wise. 

" I liear them bringing up your baggage ; Florette," 
to the maid who appeared at the door, " open the 
door of the large closet. I think there will be room for 
both trunks ; — if not, after you have emptied them, 
Cousin Marion, one or both can be taken to the trunk- 
room." 

The men deposited my baggage in the closet and 
retired. 

"Now, sweet, you have not a moment to lose. 
Wash that dear little dusty face immediately, or the 
dinner will spoil. Give Floretto your keys, and she 
will take out your things. She is to wait on you, as 
she does on me. Here is your dressing-room. Re- 
member, I give you twenty minutes," and she passed 
into her own room. 

My toilet was made in the required time. Florette 
found a white orMndv and broad blue sash which she 
recommended me to wear. She did not turn up her 
already retroussS nose at my scanty wardrobe ; she 
knew that girls just out of scIkxjI did wai have a fash- 
ionable outfit. Very pleasantly she oflFered to ar- 



EN SURPRISE. 27 

range ray hair, complimenting it, French style, as she 
put it lip. 

" It is in great golden waves," she cried, " and it 
reaches to mademoiselle's knees. Miss Maxwell 
ought to see it ! " 

" Another time, Florette. We are in a hurry now." 

" Ah, do not I know tliat ? The doctor likes not to 
have the houiUon cold," and she made me present- 
able in a marvellously short time. 

I tapped at my cousin's door, and we went down 
together. 

The callers were gone from the drawing-room when 
we entered. My aunt gave me an afiEectiouat<5 greet- 
ing, for which I felt most grateful. She, too, had a 
haughty, reserved air, which made her gentleness to 
me the more impressive. I was not so thoughtless as 
to fail to realize that it wcis a great kindness for her 
to receive me as she did. She had nothing to gain 
from my intrusion into her home — I, everything. 

I mutely resolved to give her love and obedience, 
at least, in return for her goodness to me ; and I hoped 
to make myself useful in many little ways. 

My uncle came in with the summons to dinner, 
lie kissed me on both cheeks, and rather brusquely 
" po<^^)h-priohed " me when I began to cry. But ho 
was my own dear mother's brother, and I could not 
lieJp it. 



- '^•^ ' ■■ ^ ■ ' '■**— ■*— *ahh^i**<— jaMajMiiBi^iM^p..^^.^^.^ 



28 EN 8UBPBI8E. \ 

" These are for you, Marion. You see I have not ] 
forgotten that you were to be here." 

He gave me a lovely bouqicet de oorsagey which 
Margaret fastened in the bosom of my dress. Then 
he, drew my hand into his arm and marched out with 
me to the dining-room. In five minutes I liad con- 
ceived the greatest possible fondness for him. 

The soup had just been handed round, when a ser- 
vant appeared and spoke in a low voice to my uncle. 

" Show liim in at once,'' was the i-esponse, and then 
the doctor explained to me that the guest was a poor, 
but very intelligent German musician, for whom there 
was always a plate laid at his table. 

" I like to hear him talk," he said. 

" It will be a treat for you to hear him play," added 
Margaret 

At that moment the person discussed appeared in 
the door, whei*e he paused to smile and wave his 
hand graciously. 

" You are late, Herr Halm," said Aunt Maxwell. 
" Your broth will be lukewarm* Sit here, beside me. 
This is our niece. Miss Guthrie, who will liencefortli 
be one of our family." 

"I am glad to hear that," responded the Herr, 
gallantly. I will not attempt to reproduce the foreign 
accent 

"We are all glad," said Uncle ilaxwell. "Con- 



EN SURPRISE. 29 

sider youi'sclf invited, Ilcrr Halm, to the rosebud 
dinner we intend giving her before many weeks." 

"A thousand thanks, my good doctor," and the 
visitor devoting himself to his soup, I ventured to 
look more closely at him. lie was quite young, or 
looked so, having a blonde skin and long yellow hair 
which streamed in curling locks down his shoulders. 
As he laid down his spoon, he leaned back in his 
chair, and said to the doctor : 

" As thought is the product of the gray matter of 
the ^ brain,' and the bi*ain is nourished by what we 
eat and drink, I ought to have some very brilliant 
ideas after your excellent broth." 

"I suppose you are to play us the concrete of 
chicken and lamb and green pease this evening," 
laughed Ilarry. 

" Include pale, imperial Campuzano," added Herr 
Ualm. ^'I notice that the brain-product of three 
glasses of sherry is generally a new theme. By the 
way, I had a fierce argument with your reverend 
friend, two days ago. He's as obstinate as a mule on 
the evolution question. lie won't go forward — he just 
stands still and kicks. It is strange that a person so 
capable of sound reasoning should choose to throw 
his heels about in that way." 

" Ue is not at liberty to advance ; his j^rofession 
forbids it. The mistake the believei-s in revealed 



■^B^MM^M^iUirfliiB^MAi^hto^^ 



/ 



30 EN aUBPRlSE, 

religion make is, that such a religion is incompatible 
with science, as science stands to-day. Of coarse 
every year will now be full of startling revelations, 
the tendency of which will be to show how much 
more what we call Nature has to do with the phe- 
nomena of the Universe than even we now anticipate. 
The old order of things will have to go, — it is going. 
Happy will the religionists be if they can reconstruct 
their religion to suit the new demand. They have 
got to do it, or, as Wall street says, ' go by the board.' 

" That protoplasm should evolve into a Newton seems 
more wonderful to me than that Adam should have 
been molded out of dust, a perfect creature, and the 
breath of life breathed in his nostrils. Tliat God 
could have planned the univei-se, and taken his lordly 
leisure to see it grow from the seed he planted, makes 
him a greater Creator to me than as if his work were 
performed by the issuing of mandates," said Harry. 

The firet course was now placed on the table. You 
may be sure that I listened with open ears to the cou- 
versation, which was kept up with more or less vigor, 
during the hour we sat at dinner. I do not propose 
inflicting what was said upon the reader neither 
then nor thereafter, except perhaps a sentence hero 
and there which became of marked interest to me and 
influenced me ix>werfully. What I do want to do 
is to truthfully relate the state of my own mind 



EN SURPRISE, 31 

as well as I now can, from recollection ; I took no 
notes at the time. The persons about me evidently 
had taken no cognizance of the fact that I was one of 
those orthodox believers whose views they were attack- 
ing, and that, possibly, they might be hurting my feel- 
ings. I was too much of a child, perhaps, to be re- 
garded. The ideas I heard discussed were, the most 
of them, quite new to me, and more striking than 
they would be to those who were accustomed to such 
discussions. 

As I have said, I was a clergyimui's daughter, 
brought up strictly within the pale of the church. 
After my father's death, my motlier had slowly faded 
away, and as she realized that she was to leave her 
child an orphan, she had spent all her little strength 
in trying to give me a deeply religious, prayerful, and 
reverential nature. The name of her Saviour was often 
on her trembling lips, and on the last day of her life 
she liad made me promise that I would never go to bed 
at night without laying the burden of the day, be it 
of joy or sorrow, at His feet. She died, with the 
glory of saintship beaming from her wasted face. 

After that I had been in a school whose principal 
was an earnest Christian woman, who had encouraged 
my attempts to be faithful to my mother's teacliings. 
Of course, in school, I had no opportunity for reading 
the current topics of the day. Thus I had absolutely 



f 






32 EN SURPRISE. 

never heard a doubt expressed ; and this was why 1 
looked so startled at the strange vein in the conver- 
sation at my uncla's dinner-table. At last Margaret 
noticed my distress. 

" You are ill with fatigue," she said, in an undertone. 

" No, indeed, Consin Margaret, I am not." 

" Take a glass of wine, — you are as white as your 
dress." 

" I will wait for the coffee ; I prefer it. This ice 
is delicious. I shall be better in a little while." 

Alas! I was too timid, or cowardly, to tell her 
what had driven the color from my face. 

We had coffee, and the conversation turning to 
lighter matters I was again happy — full of delight 
with the house, the furniture, my friends, my prospects. 

We soon left the table, and Margaret took me all 
over the first floor to make me ^acquainted with my 
Burroundiiigs. The rosy flush of a June sunset still 
lighted the house, although it was half-past seven. 
As I told you, it was a double house ; and it was very 
expensively finished, there being a large amount of 
ebonized and other rare woods used, and much dec- 
oration done by tasteful artists. Each I'oom was in- 
dividualized in its ornamentation and furnishing. 
There was a spacious drawing-rcx)m on one side of 
the hull, supplemented by a boudoir, separated from 
it by an arch richly drai)ed with thick satin curtains 



EN SURPRISE. 33 

of a creamy yellow. On the other side of the hall 
wa8 a small reception-room, the side-hall for the 
stairs, and the library. The honse was full of bric- 
a-brac, bronzes, and pictures, and there were a few 
marble statues in appropriate situations. " But if 
you want to see the favorite resort of the house you 
must come up with me to the saloon," said Margaret. 
" Papa keeps the most of his pictures and statuary 
there, Harry has his easel set up there, and we all 
like to be there." 

Full of curiosity, I followed eagerly. On the saaie 
floor with our rooms, on the opposite side of the hall, 
was a double door leading into a room or gallery 
which ran the whole length of the house, being sup- 
ported by two light arches. As we entered, a soft 
radiance poured into this saloon from two western 
windows. Tliere were four windows on the north 
side. It was richly carpeted with Persian rugs and 
furnished with divans, lounges, an occasional table, 
and, best of all, a real pipe organ at the eastern ex- 
tremity. Every inch of the plentiful expanse of wall 
was covered with pictures, of which, it seems, my 
undo was very fond, although he did not dub his col- 
lection ** a gallery." A marble image of St. Cecilia 
stood near the organ ; there were several other beau- 
tiful statues, a stand of engravings, another of choice 
photographs, and, between the two western windows, 






34 JEiV SURPRISE, 

an ancient cabinet of ebony and ivory, in wliich some 
cardinal of tlie seventeenth century may have locked 
the secret instructions which he received from the 
Pope. 

1 used to think " the Parsonage," with its wide 
piazzas, its climbing roses, its fluttering muslin curtai ns, 
and the tasteful furniture bought with my mother's 
money, the finest home in the world. What I now 
saw had the added splendor of novelty ; yet it was 
splendid enough without that. 

I walked aroimd the saloon two or three times, not 
attempting to examine any particular pictui-e or 
statue, but receiving a general impression. One 
statue, or what I supposed to be a statue, standing in 
a niclie, had a silken curtain drawn before it. 

" What have you there? " I asked Margaret. 

" Every house, they say, must have its ' skeleton in 
the closet ; ' that is ours." 

I was more puzzled than before, but passed on in 
my round of admiration, while my cousin sank into a 
quaint, high-backed cliair which stood facing the west, 
and turned her lovely eyes on the fading rose-tints, 
visible through a vacant space between two tall houses 
of the next street 

" Oh dear, how enchanting everything is ! " I mur- 
mui-ed, with a sigh of ecstasy. 

She "smiled superior,'' and I continued on my proiu- 



\ 



EN^ SURPRISE. 35 

enade. Before I bad made another tour of the gal- 
lery, my uncle, Herr Halm, and a gentleman whom 1 
immediately recognized as the Rev. Gray Grey don, 
came in. The doctor presented him to me. He looked 
quickly at me a second time — "Is tliis the young 
lady that I saw, about tliree hours ago, tending a very 
troublesome baby ? " 

Uncle stared and laughed ; I colored and smiled. 

" You should not betray my dubious accomplish- 
ment of baby-soother to my fastidious friends, Mr. 
Greydon." 

" I beg your pardon ; they shall never hear another 
word about it from my lips — ^not though they perish 
of curiosity. The sunset is dying like a dolphin; 
shall we walk down the saloon and have a look at it, 
Miss Guthrie?" 

We strolled on until we came to where Margaret was 
visible, her head leaning back against the Elizabetlian 
chair, her dark, dreamy eyes fixed on the opaline 
heaven. Her creamy skin had caught a faint pink 
hue from the air ; her hands lay idly in her lap. She 
had not noticed our approach. As if oblivious of the 
fact that I could hardly avoid reading his action, Mr. 
Greydon stopped, looking with a passionate, half-de- 
spairing, entirely fascinated gaze at my cousin, who 
was more beautiful than ever in that soft light which 
was rapidly sinking into twilight. 



-■ ■ ' "^ " fTl-Tn r •■! 



36 EN SURPRISE. 

"Come," said my uncle to me at that moment, "I 
want to introduce my friend Mr. Murphy, Marion.'* 

His daughter started from her reverie at his words, 
and perceived the visitor for the fii-st time. I left 
her speaking to him, and went on my uncle's arm up 
the hall, until he paused in front of the mysterious 
curtain. Ilerr Ilalm, with his hands behind him, 
stood near. 

Drawing the curtain, the doctor said with mock 
gravity: 

" Miss Guthrie, my friend, Mr. Murphy." 

I gave a little cry and drew back, but recovered 
myself, and tried to appear calm, and take the intro- 
duction ccK^lly. Most young girls, 1 fancy, have some 
prejudices against making friends with a skeleton. 
Those mature ladies who have passed through a medi- 
cal course can afford to smile at such foolish suj^ersti- 
tion, but I was only a nervous school-girL 

" You will not be so afraid of him after you have 
established an acquaintance. Ue is perfectly hann- 
less — a wiiy fellow, but no muscle to speak of." 

" Why do you call him Mr. Murphy ? " — my voice 
was ridiculously faint. " Is it })ossible that you knew 
him before — when he " 

" Not at all, my dear. I had not that pleasure. 
Look at the upward cur^'0 of the nasal b<^>nc, — that 
alone would betray his nationality. He was a smoker, 



EN SURPRISE, 37 

and he smoked a pipe, as you can see for yourself if 
you look at the worn place in this cuspid made by 
the stem of the pipe. lie had three ribs bi*oken once, 
doubtless at Donnybrook Fair." 

" But why do you keep him here f " 

" I keep him here as a framework for my son to 
study when he desires to hang the flesh over the bones 
of his pictured people. You know Harry is some- 
tliing of an artist, — took the taste from me, I suspect 
My friend Murphy is also a finger-mark, pointing to 
the road we all must take. He is a philosopher, too, 
in his way, who, if he says little, is the occasion 
of much thought in others. I prize his companion- 
ship above that of some more talkative people. By 
way of contrast, t<x), he heightens the effect of these 
soft and rounded statues — he is Leanness personified. 
1 copy the ancient Egyptians in giving him the top- 
most seat at my banquet of good things." 

" Won't you please drop the curtain, uncle t " 

lie walked on with me, but did not lower the curtain. 

"The curtain will drop soon enough," remarked 
Ilerr Halm. 

It was now almost dark in the gallery ; a servant 
came to the door and said : 

" Mr. Vervelde is in the drawing-room." 

" Shall we have Mr. Vervelde up here % " my uncle 
called to Margaret by the window. 



f 



38 EN 8URPRI8E. 

"Yes, papa," — something thrilled in the silver 
voice that 1 had not heard there before. 

" Light the candles, Turner, and ask the gentleman 
to come up here. Tell him that we aru to have some 
music on the organ." 

The man deftly lighted about two dozen wax can- 
dles in the vicinity of the organ, and one cluster of 
gas-lights so imprisoned in moonlike globes that their 
effect was almost as g<of t and silvery as that of the ta- 
pers. We all drew to that end of the room. 

" It is a mark of friendship when we invite a vis- 
itor to the saloon," explained my uncle. " Ah, good 
evening, Yervelde. Happy to see you. We have 
had a fine sunset, — did you see it? This is my niece, 
and henceforth my adopted daughter, Miss Guthrie, 
a fledgling just trying her wings outside the walls of a 
boarding-school."' 

" Do not tell everybody that, uncle. They may 
think me old and wise, if yon do not inform them to 
the contrary," I said, with some laughing indigna- 
tion, after returning the new-comer's greeting. 

" She is a good traveller, I can answer for that," 
said Mr. Greydon, " patient, discreet, and uncom- 
plaining. We were in the same car for about ten 
horn's of this hot day. I got cross ; but she did not." 

" CJongratulate me on having a sister, Mr. Ver- 
velde." 



I 






EN surprise:. 39 

"I do, with all my heart, Miss Maxwell. It must 
be perfectly charmmg to have such a sister." 

I rather scorned the flattery implied in this answer, 
although I felt like hugging my cousin before all 
those people for calling me sister; but I restrained 
myself bravely. 

Ilerr Halm had already seated himself at the or- 
gan and began playing an Ave Marie of Jael's, his 
head thrown back, his large blue eyes fixed on the 
pipes, as if he saw, not them, but the Mother of God, 
with ten thousand glimmering white angels choiring 
in a cloud about her. 

" How do you like that ? " he asked, whirling about 
on his stool as the last pleading chord soared off be- 
yond our dull sense; "do you think it as well as 
Listz^B ? " — to Margaret 

Smiling at the peculiar construction of his question, 
she nodded approval. 

" Shall I continue on to play something more. Miss 
Maxwell?" 

" We never tire of your playing, Ilerr Ilalm." 

With a beaming countenance he returned to the 
key-board, and the golden stream of a sonata flowed 
through the gallery, in rhythmic waves of pure mel- 
ody, untroubled by tlie fret and divergence of too 
uiQch ornamentation. The music exulted me above 
myself, yet I looked about me, too, while enjoy- 



■MMH^HrtMkMMrtk 



/ 



40 EN SURPRISE, 

ing it, making mental observations on my compan- 
ions. 

My nncle was a slender, keen-eyed man of about 
fifty, with dark hair, sh'ghtly silvered. Harry was 
like his mother, brown-haired and hazel-eyed ; but 
there was more geniality in his manners than in hers. 
Margaret seemed to have her mother's pride and her 
father's features. 

Vervelde was not by any means as. handsome as 
Greydon, and was at least thirty years old. He had 
gray eyes, hair almost black, a dark complexion, an 
ugly nose ; but he had also a nnistache which became 
him — a charm in the eyes of eighteen — and a really 
good figure. Ilis looks had little to do with the im- 
pression he made on others. I decided, in my own 
mind, that he was a great favorite in society. lie had 
the easy mannei's, tlie air of polite indifference which 
the n)cking of an earthquake would scarcely disturb, 
of a man of the world. Under this was a subtle and 
tremendous power which made him the man he was. 
" lie gets everything he wants in this world, I am cer- 
tain," I thought, and I noticed that my cousin paid 
him the closest attention when he spoke, and that her 
eyes rested on him covertly whenever tliey could with- 
out his knowledge, — also that the clergyman had lost 
his animated expression and sat like a stupid carica- 
ture of his better self. 



EN SURPRISE, 41 

The evening passed rapidly away. I seemed to 
myself months older than I was that morning, I had 
lived so mnch in a few hours. At eleven Margaret 
and I, the visitors having gone, went to onr rooms. 

*' Three admirers ! how I envy you 1 " I said gaily, 
as she stopped in my room to see that I had all I 
needed. 

'* Foolish child ! " she answered gravely, as if she 
were an hundred years old. " You will not say so 
always. Is there anything you wish for to-night 
with which 1 can supply you ? " 

" Will you lend me your Bible, when yon are done 
with it? Mine is in the bottom of tlie trunk which 
has not been unstrapped, and I am too tired to at- 
tempt reaching it." 

" My Bible ? " and she hesitated. " I do not believe 
there is one in the house, except the large one in the 
libi-ary. Shall I ring for Turner to bring you that ? " 

" No, cousin ; but I hope I shall not be so sleepy as 
to say my prayers without meaning them." 

" And do you say your prayers every night, little 
witch ? " 

" You need not fear I shall neglect that. Cousin 
Margaret, for I promised mamma, the last thing, to 
never fail." 

She kissed me and went into her own room. She did 
not betray, by any smile or comment, that she had no 



^ 



A^bAM-a^MMiM 



42 



EN SURPRISE, 



faith in the uses of prayer— she was too considerate, 
too polite, even, for that — but 1 knew it, 1 cannot 
tell how. I was sliocked ; I knew that it was dread- 
ful ; but it did not abate the admiration which I felt 
for my cousin. 

" I must pray for her," 1 said, and I did most 
earnestly, and thanking my Heavenly Friend for a 
happy day, I crept into bed and was quickly asleep. 




CHAPTER 111. 

" THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME." 

I found the cross, but not the Christ. The whole 
Of heaven was dark : and I went bitterly 
Weeping because I found Him not. 




She passed into my youth at its night-time, 
When low the lamplight and the music husht ; 
She passed, and passed away. 

— Owen Meredith, 

T school we were obliged to rise at six in the 
summer. A little after that hour 1 awoke, 
and lay for some time, looking, with wide- 
pen eyes and busy mind, about my beautiful room, 
was perfectly delighted with my surroundings, in 
>ve with my uncle and his family, and charmed with 
le prospect of plenty of society. It did not require 
le coulexir de rose vision of eighteen yeare to please 
le with Dr. Maxwell's home and associations. There 
ere plenty of people a good deal older than 1, 1 
Eterwards learned, who thought his house one of the 



/ 



44 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED MEV 

choicest places in the citv to spend an evening, or to 
enjoy a dinner party. Professors and savants were 
as thick about it as bees about honey; while the 
two young people had their own friends and admirers, 
whose wisdom consisted in their inexperience, and 
whose glor}' in their youth. Harry was a favorite 
everywhere ; while those who did not adore Margaret 
regarded her as they did the moon — something bright, 
to be admired at a distance. 

With my eyes on the delicate flax-flowers and rose- 
buds which beautified the cornice, I went over all the 
many experiences of the previous day. " How happy, 
how fortunate I am ! " I smiled to myself, and then it 
seemed as if a sigh trembled in the air, and I thought, 
with a sudden thrill of pain, of my mother. If she 
were permitted, as she had often told me she believed 
she would be, to watch over me from that invisible 
heaven of rapture and holiness to which she had gone, 
would she be pleased and satisfied to realize the in- 
fluences already at work to undermine my faith ? 

" But she must have known the chai-acter of mv 
uncle's beliefs and disbeliefs," I answered myself, 
*• and knowing them, she placed me under liis care. I I 
remember that she had more respect for Uncle Max- 
well than for almost any other person." 

'* I can pray to be guided, at least ; and to be kept 
to the truth, whatever the truth is," I finally conclu- 



" THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME,"" 46 

ded ; and I did pray, earnestly and anxiously, for that, 
and to be kept from worldly-minded ness. 

The thought even crossed my mind that I, childish 
and ignorant as I was, might be the means of '^ con- 
verting " uncle and my dear cousins. In that hope 
it behooved me to be very, very careful to do what I 
thought right, always — to be sweet-tempered and 
patient, unselfish, and unashamed to acknowledge 
always that I was a child of God, or trying to be. 
When I had thus prayed and resolved I felt more 
cheerful. 

I took plenty of time at my bathing and dressing, 
for the rising bell did not ring until after seven. I 
had a pretty blue cambric morning-dress, which I put 
on. When I could no longer amuse myself with my 
toilet, I drew back the blinds of a window, and sat 
doMm by it to inspect the neighborhood. There 
was not much to see besides the dull bricks of the 
tall houses whose brown-stone faces smiled on the 
next street ; but a sweet little bit of flower-garden 
bloomed just under my window, and a wisteria climbed 
over it, bearing along with it helpfully, as some strong 
man assists a delicate lady, a rose-vine, now in full 
flower. A large hot-house occupied the remainder of 
the forty square feet of ground which my uncle had 
reserved behind his house. 

I had a glimpse, too, of the stone-tower of a church, 



^riai ■ I ►, i^ii 



/ 



46 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME."" 

its fine sculptured work half hidden in ivy, and its 
tall, graceful epire rising, rising, as our thoughts 
should, heavenward. 

" I wonder if tliat is Mr. Greydon's church?" 

Florette came to dress me ; but 1 did not need her, 
and she went in to attend on Margaret. It was a 
quarter to eight, and I was half-famished, when my 
cousin came for me to go down, the second bell having 
rung. I thought Margaret lovelier than ever in her 
s^jft white morning-gown, her thick, wavy hair caught 
back from her smooth forehead with a ribbon and 
flowing do^vn her shoulders. I gave her an impulsive 
embrace, in return for which she bestowed on me the 
kiss of a princess. 

" We breakfast frightfully early this morning," said 
my aunt, after she had allowed me to kiss her cheek. 
" I have a vast amount <>f work laid out for to-day, — 
too much for one poor woman." 

" Perhaps you Avill allow me to help you, Aunt 
Maxwell?" 

"A large part of my work is to shop for you, 
Marion. To-day is Saturday ; on Monday afternoon 
we leave for Newport. Margaret has quite a number 
of things to purchase \q\ ; so I have ordered the car- 
riage for half-past eight, that we may be at Arnold's 
by nine, and get the most of our shoppinir done l)e- 
foro it becomes so oppressively warm. You will have 



'• THE WOMAN TEMPTED MR"" 47 

to have aZmoat everythiivg^ Marion, if you go with us 
to Newport," 

" I don't care to go to Newport this summer, aunt. 
If the house is to bo kept open until you return to 
go in the country, will you not let me remain hero ? 
I want to get acquainted with it — the pictures, the 
library. I'm quite certain I have more to loam by 
staying here than by running away immediately." 

" Tliat's a good little girl," spoke up Doctor Max- 
well. " /am not going to Newport; and you shall 
stay here with me, if you like. I shall be glad of 
some one to keep the ghosts away." 

" If you are perfectly willing, I have no objections, 
my dear," my aunt answered, after a little reflection. 
" But if yon care at all to accompany us, I will see 
that you are made ready." 

" I believe I prefer to be here, aunt." 

" Very well. Now I shall not have so much on 
my hands to-day. Still, you require some new things, 
and Margaret has her hats to choose, so we will go 
shopping, all the same." 

I was not averse to this ; to purchase my things at 
the great shops of which I had heard and read so 
much would give them an added charm, and I pre- 
mme I looked happy, for Harry laughed : 

"Daughter of Eve," he said, tersely. 

" Eve must have been a horrid creature," {?aid Mar- 



/ 



48 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED MB.'' 

garet "According to the new developments, she 
must have dwelt in a cave, and spent her time in 
splitting open bones and digging out their mari-ow. 
She never combed her hair, and one good bear-skin 
would last her a lifetime for a best dress." 

"Perhaps," added Harry, "she cracked cocoa-nuts 
instead of bones, and all her native vanity was ex- 
pended on her prehensile appendage." 

" What do you say, Marion ? " 

" I have always fancied her about as Milton pic- 
tured her." 

" Do you read Milton ? " he asked, as if he had 
asked, " Do you read last year's almanac ? " 

" Yes, indeed ! and think him glorious," I answered 
quickly, not to say defiantly. " Uncle Maxwell, may 
I ask you what you meant when you said, at dinner 
yesterday, that ' the religionists will have to recon- 
struct their religion, or go by Jhe board ' ? " 

He hesitated, as I have seen mothers do when try- 
ing to find words simple enough to answer the ques- 
tions of very small children, and finally half-langh- 
ingly evaded me l>y saying : 

" Wait until they are all gone, Marion, and when 
you and I are alone we will have a talk on the 
subject." 

" I hoi)e, doctor, that you will not say anything at 
all on these subjects to Marion. Remember how she 



" THE WOMAN TEMPTED MEr 49 

was brought up. If she finds comfort in her present 
faith, why should we disturb her ? " 

" I assure you, my dear wife, I'm not anxious to 
talk theology with her." 

"No, I suppose not. It will not be necessary. 
As she reads, studies, and thinks, she will gradually 
form her own views. I feel a peculiar reluctance, 
when I think how she was left to us, to influence her 
in any way in religious matters." 

" You are quite right, my dear." 

As if it were possible that I should live in their 
house, be subject to the pressure of older minds, hear 
and see what went on from day to day, and 7iot be in- 
fluenced ! As well immerse a white cotton-pod in a 
carmine dye and tell it to take up no color. 

However, my cousins made no more remarks upon 
the " motlier of mankind ; " and the more immediate 
interest of the shopping excursion absorbed my mind 
and prevented farther inquiries at that time. 

After I had finished my breakfast, aunt excused me 
from table, and I hastened to change my wrapper for a 
street-coetume, which was a suit my aunt had selected 
and sent on by express to me when at school, and 
therefore not now to be criticised. 

The pleasure of that morning was unalloyed, from 
the moment the carriage left the curbstone in front of 
my uncle's house until it returned there. To see 



>r- • 



60 " TBB WOMAN TEMPTED MET 

"millions " of pretty things, and bny quite a number, 
to eat ices at Youck's, and have a drive through Fifth 
Avenue — this was bliss to me, if something of a bore 
to my friends. My aunt explained a few business 
matters to us in the carriage, which I was glad to 
understand. She said that a portion of my income 
had accumulated while I was at school ; so that I now 
had about one thousand dollars in bank, besides the 
two hundred she had placed in my pocket-book that 
morning, and the most of which I had spent. My in- 
come would be about seven hundred a year after this. 
This sum would dress me, with economy, in a plain 
but very nice manner. For anything but dress I was 
to be under no expense ; when they travelled, they 
would take me with them as their own daughter ; in 
their house I must feel myself as much at home as 
did Margaret. 

"And now, Marion, although you are out of school, 
you have only just begun to study. I shall advise you 
to take up a course of reading, under your uncle's 
suggestion. When we return to town in the fall, yon 
must have masters in music and the languages; for 
some time to come, your uncle will be glad to l)e 
your teacher in any one science j'ou may select, in 
addition." 

I was glad that I was not to lead an idle life. I 
also felt very rich with seven hundred dollars a year 



« THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME,"" 61 

of pocket-money, and I resolved that one-tenth of 
my little income shonld invariably be spent in charity. 
Altogether, I felt very good, happy, and affectionate, 
as it is easy to do when there is nothing but sunshine 
abroad. It is not hard to be amiable when one is 
perfectly well and there is nothing to try one's patience ! 

I expressed compliance with my aunt's suggestions, 
and thanked her with a sincerity which could not bf* 
displeasing to her. 

We came home to luncheon, which was of the 
daintiest The cool dimness of the dining-room was 
agreeable after tlie heat of the street. This room lay 
across the rear of the house ; a pair of double-doors 
opened out of the main hall into it; it was long and 
ample, and had a beautiful ceiling of dark oak, richly 
carved in fruit and flowers. It really seemed to add 
to the flavor of the food to take one's meal in so su- 
perb a room. 

The doctor came out of his study to join us at the 
table. He had given up the practice of medicine; 
but was still consulted by other physicians, and was 
always busy with experiments, writing articles for the 
j)res9, seeing people who were interested in kindred 
pursuits, or reading the latest reports; so that his 
" hours," as he still called them, from 10 a.m. to 3 or 
4 P.M., were as full of business as in the days when 
he was a pi-actising physician. 



62 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME^ 

" Cousin Harry is not at home 1 " 

" No, my dear. Harry fi-ctted at having no fixed 
occupation — a very necessary thing for our happi- 
ness, Marion — and I set him up in Wall Street in 
business for himself. He is at leisure after three 
o'clock. He likes something to absorb a portion of his 
energies ; has been successful thus far, and is alto- 
gether contented with the arrangement" 

" Well, uncle, cannot I have my business houi-s, tool 
I know I shall grow indolent and useless, if I can, at 
any whim of mine, delay the commencement of my 
day's work. I think my best way is to give myself 
four hours for study, and be inexorable about it." 

" It certainly will help you immensely, if you have 
the decision to make yourself obedient to your 



rules." ,.- 

" You can apply the ferule, imcle, if you find- mo 
loitering." 

" What, I ? " 

" Yes, you must aid me to keep my good resolu- 
tions." 

" You will find me very exacting." 

" So much the better." 

" Shall we begin on Monday ? " 

" If you please, uncle, not until Tuesday. When 
the others are well out of the way, I sliall not have 
the excuse for idleness. Then, too, I have just *grad-. 



" THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME^ 58 

uatcd/ aud four days make rather a brief holi- 
daj." 

" True. We must not study too hard in hot wea- 
tlier, either. Well, well, I will give you the primers 
and the picture-book A-B-C?s of knowledge. I must 
try not to forget that you are eighteen and I fifty," 

" Thank you, uncle. Milk for babes, of course." 
I said it poutiQgly, but I was sure I should like my 
teacher. ^ 

After luBcheon my aunt and Margaret retired to 
their respective rooms for an hour's rest. I was not 
accustomed to sletjp in the day-time, and did not in- 
tend forming the habit. Margaret feared I would 
find it dull to be left by myself. 
'^ -^ i^Kot witli an unexplored library near at hand," — 
^.imd they left me in that fascinating region to make 
disnoveries for myself. I selected a novel that ap- 
peared fi*om the title to be promising, and curled up 
in a large leather chair. This was my holiday, and I 
had no intention of dragging anything heavy into it. 
I could read one novel between this and Tuesday, and 
1 meant to do it. " White Lies," by Eeade, was the 
charming story I chanced to select. From the first 
page 1 became oblivious of ever}^tliing save the old 
French chateau and its inhabitants. Time slipped 
away ; I was in another world — when suddenly I was 
. recalled to this one and to my immediate smTound- 



54 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME. 



»» 



/ 



ings by a bitter, heart-breaking groan coming from 
the lips of some one in the room. 

I had wheeled tlie great chair in which I was en- 
sconced half round toward a window, tlie blinds of 
which were turned to admit light for my reading, so 
that I could not now see who had given forth this 
sign of anguish. I dropped my book, half-starting j 
from my seat, and turned about just in time to see I 
my contain Margaret enter the room, and Mr. Grey- 
don, his face pale as clay, start forward and catch at • 
her extended hand. ' 

" Forgive my coming again so soon. You are busy, 
too, I fear. But where could I come, if not here, in 
this crisis of my life ? The long, dreadful struggle is 
over. I have, this very hour, sent in my resignation." 

" Your resignation, Mr. Greydon ? " 

" Yes, I have just sent to the vestry my resignation 
of the pastorate of Christ Church. I will never 
preach another sermon in that or any other pulpit 
I have been a hypocrite long enough. I will have 
no more of it. My reputation, my influence, pros- 
pects, living, I have thrown to the winds. Disgraced 
in the eyes of those who have honored me, without a 
dollar in the world, I come to you and to your father 
for sympathy, — for congratulations, too, on having 
regained my self-respect. For months I have been 
nttering" hollow words that were like Dead-Sea apples. 



" THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME?' 66 

I have been preacliing * Clirist and Him crucified,' 
when I did not believe that Ho was the Son of God. 
I have lied every time that I went through the Ritual. 
I do not believe in the resurrection of the body, nor 
even in the life everlasting. It seems to me a sub- 
lime egotism on the pait of man, this claim of his to 
immortality. God is too great for us. It crushes me 
to think of Him. I do not care to meddle any longer 
with His affairs. I am quite incompetent to do any- 
thing for Him. As I am all uncertain of the path, I 
now relinquish the attempt to lead othere. You can- 
not imagine what a sense of freedom I have — how 
glad I am that the struggle is over." 

He did not look so glad, I thought ; more like one 
who had just endured a mortal strait and was worn 
and exhausted. 

" Sit down. You are pale and tired," said Mar- 
garet, in that low, soft, gentle, and yet cold voice of 
hers. 

He could not calm himself to quiet yet ; he walked 
up and down. 

" Tell me that you approve the step I have taken," 
lie said, wistfully. 

" How can I do otherwise than approve of it, if you 
are taking it in response to the bidding of your own 
natnre ? Each one of us must answer to bis own self 
f<jr what he is. If you have been saying in the pul- 



■ — "agiiargirniHi I — 



56 ^'TUE WOMAN TEMPTED MBP 

pit things which you do not believe, of course you 
caunot quit that too soon." 

" IIow cold you arc, Miss Maxwell ! I thought you 
would be glad, and tell me so," reproachfully, bis 
voice trembling. 

" You mistake. It was, as far as it was anything, 
a comfort to me to know that one whom I respected as 
I did you felt and believed so differently. I may have 
even entertained a faint hope that by some new and 
inexorable mathematicts you could obtain an answer 
to the question which perplexes us, and so settle it." 

" How could /, when men like your father, so much 
wiser and older, cannot work out the problem? If it 
had not been for Doctor Maxwell I never should have 
left the Church." 

" You must not say that, Mr. Greydon. You 
sought my father's society — not he youre. Are you 
incapable of thinking for yourself? Does my father 
read and think for vou ? He does not for ine. There 

• 

18 a radical difference in our views. We have many a 
hand-to-hand fight, papa and I. I shall think you very 
weak if you hold us accountable for your opinions." 

'' Oh, how cruel you are ! " he half whispered, with 
a passionate look of appeal into the beautiful, cold 
face of my cousin. 

I wanted to sink out of sight and hearing ; for I 
was quite certain that Mr. Greydon had not perceived 



" THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME.'' 57 

nie, in his agitation, although Margaret had glanced 
at me several times, and her eyes had seemed to ask me 
to remain in the room. A deep pity for the man 
brouglit tears into my eyes. I saw that he loved my 
cousin, and that she did not love him. I felt that he 
had abandoned the ship of Faith, and was trying to 
keep afloat in treacherous waters, holding out his 
hands to Margaret to draw him to her side on the 
dry land — the hard, rocky land — of Materialism, on 
which she stood. My heart ached for him. But I 
could not blame Margaret. She wore truth, like a 
star, on her brow. She had no more coquetted with 
this unhappy lover than she had attempted to change 
his religions views. If she had influenced him, it had 
been by simply acting and being her own self. 

" Say one kind, encouraging word to me," he 
pleaded. " I have endured agony to-day, and I need 
to be comforted. My sermon was half done at eleven 
this morning, when T resolved never to finish it. Do 
you think I gave up all without pain ? I do not 
know what to turn to — what to do. I suppose I can 
apply for some dull professorship in a college." 

" You must talk with papa about that, Mr. Grey- 
don," was the answer, given with more feeling. " I 
am certain he can and will be glad to give you ad- 
vice and assistance in business mattera. Come ! papa 

is in his studv now. I will take you to him." 
3* 






68 " THE WOMAN TEMPTED ME."* 

" One moment, Miss Maxwell ! Let me say some- 
thing to you, fii-st." 

" No, not one word. Do not attempt it. If you 
do, I will desert you without mercy. My father is 
your proper adviser and friend. I will take you to 
him," — and she walked out of the room with some- 
thing in her air and tlie tones of her voice which 
checked the mad, impetuous torrent on the lover's 
lips. 

He followed her, with drooping head and haggard 
face. 

In vain I tried to regain the interest which had ab- 
sorbed me in my novel. Here was something in real 
life happening under my eyes. Ilere was a lover 
doomed to wretched disappointment, — that is, if he had 
been so foolish as to entertain a hope. Here was a 
young clergyman, already famous in a small way as 
an eloquent speaker and original thinker, deserting 
his church and his faith to grope about the universe, 
looking for a better one. 

Five crystal strokes on the bell of the wonderful 
bronze clock on the mantel-piece lecalled me to my- 
self, and I put away the closed volume which had 
lain idly in my lap, and went up to my room to dress 
for dinner. 

" Wear the new summer-silk, and let us see how we 
like it," said Margaret, coming in from her own 



" TEE WOMAN TEMPTED ME,"* 



59 



room, ^^ the one we purchased this morning. I am 
Bnre you will be lovely in pearl-gray.'' 

She looked like a princess herself ; but the faintest 
possible flush on her cheeks and about her eyes be- 
trayed to me that she had been crying. 

"It is no pleasure to her to refuse a lover," I 
thought " She cannot help it, if people will follow 
her ; but she is no coquette, and I am glad of it." 





m 



iWM 



^VVVV^^^aJ 




1^^ 


? // / y .^ 


IH^^i^TD^fer^v:^ 


\S^ ^ 


Ai-^v^ 


• ^ 1 r vL^-5« 


^5^^_ '^ —^ _ ^ ^ - i 












CHAPTER IV. 

BfiOWN EYES AND OOLD IIAIB. 

Then my soul 
Turned inward, to examine of what stuff 
Timers fetters are composed : and life was pat 
To inquisition long and profitless. 

** Who shall decide when doctors disagree ? " 




APA usually, when he is in tx)wn, has from 
four to eight gentlemen to dine with him 
on Saturdays. Doubtless, some half-dozen 
l>eople, who will be strangers to you, are now in the 
drawing-room." 
" Oh, dear ! " 
* " You need not be frightened. They will just bow 
to you, and forget your presence. They are always 
absorbed in some topic which they believe to be of no 
interest to tlie ladies. They will have a bug or a 
bone, or something, to engross them. One thing, 
however, I have noticed — everv one of them is a 



BBOWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR. 61 

judge of a good dinner. Herr Halm will be here, of 
course. Papa suspects that a cup of coffee and a 
cracker in the morning is the only meal of which ho 
partakes outside of our house. He has only been in 
this country a few months, and has but three pupils.'^ 

We were descending the staire as my cousin gave 
me the above information. She now hurried me into 
the drawing-room to have the introduction over before 
I should become nervous. As we entered, I saw a 
group of gentlemen about a window, their heads to- 
gether, examining some object of interest, apparently 
of very minute proportions. 

Ilerr Halm was at the piano, softly playing an air 
from " Lohengrin,'' then new to everybody, and Mr, 
Greydon was standing before a picture, pale and list- 
less, affecting to observe it, but starting and turning 
crimson when he heard my cousin's step. 

It was no great trial to my timidity when Margaret 
led me up to the group of strangers and introduced 
me. They spoke to us, with that air of admiring 
deference which such men fling as a flower at the 
feet of young ladies, and returned to their discussion. 

It seems they had a beetle about as large as a pin- 
point under a pocket-microscope; but you would 
have thought they had the Koh-i-noor. 

My aunt, handsomely dressed, came in a moment 
later. She was a queenly woman in appearance; 



AdMHBiriBta 



62 BBO WN ETE8 AND GOLD HAUL 

my uncle's guests thronged about her, talking to her 
with the greatest animation and listening with respect. 
We soon went out to dinner. The table was elegantly 
arranged, profusely adorned with roses, and set for 
fourteen persons. Turner, with three assistants, served 
the dinner d la Russe. 1 was brimful of curiosity. 
I wondered what all these black-coats would say and 
do. As they paid but little attention to me, I was 
the more free to observe them. Some of them con- 
gratulated my uncle on his cook. I learned from 
tliem that his name was Thebot, that he was French, 
and as famous in his department as those learned 
guests were in theirs. 

" He cooks as if he had studied physiology,^ re- 
marked one. 

" So he has," responded my uncle with a smile. 
" He was a student in the French School of Medicine 
where I studied, twenty-five years ago. Ashe prom- 
ised to make a poor doctor, he very sensibly concluded 
to become a good cook — a cordon hleuP 

^^ There is one man who has not mistaken his voca- 
tion." 

" It's a great pity any one should ever do that, — a 
mistake in this life must be fatal, since we have but 
this in which to try our poor little experiments. We 
go blundering on, spending the larger part of our 
meagre inheritance in learning how to work to advan- 



I 



I 



BROWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR 63 

tage, and just as we get to work in good earnest, 
puff I the extinguisher is put over our * brief candle.' 
I was sixty yesterday," said one of the guests, setting 
his wineglass down with a sigh, " and I have just 
hegun to live ! " 

"Alas, yes!" bemoaned another, looking very 
jolly, nevertheless, " if I could have a clear stretch 
of two hundred yeare before me, I should have hopes 
of settling the vexed question of the continuance of 
the process of Archebioais." 

" I imagine tliat great length of life would amount 
to little, after all," i-emarked Uncle Maxwell. " As 
each year — from the growth of self-knowledge, from 
memory, and the snm of experience — seems shorter 
to us than its predecessor, pray, what would a year 
amount to bv the time we were Methuselahs ? Life 
would be like the race of swift-moving wheels on a 
rail, a confusion of blurred images. So you see im- 
mortality is an impossibility." 

One thing was evident. Whatever respect these 
men might pay, when writing or speaking to the 
public, to the traditions of the churches, such respect 
was merely complimentary, a polite concession to the 
" supei-stitions" of the masses. They did not discuss 
religion as religion; nor do I pretend to remember 
half the topics upon which they touched, and about j 
which their wit played lightly and yet sharply, like [^ 



04 BROWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR 

liglitiiiiig above lofty raoiintain-peaks. Neitlier do I 
pretend that I was half as much interested in them 
or in their convei-sation as in watching the pale face 
of Mr. Grejdon, who sat nearly opposite me, and in 
listening to the gay side-talk of my cousin Harry, 
who kindly protected me on one side, while Herr 
Ualm barricaded me on the other, from the enemy, in 
the sliape of a Sanscrit scholar, of whom I was mor- 
tally afraid. 

I liked Harry exceedingly, already. I guessed that 
he was fastidious about ladies' manners and costumes, 
and wlien he whispered a compliment to the pearl-gray 
silk and its rosebud wearer, I knew that my dress 
must be comme ilfavi^ or, as the Yankees say, " all 
right." I was intensely excited about Air. Grey don's 
affairs — far more excited than Margaret, who, calm 
and lovely, with just a little more color than usual 
and a shade of sadness in her deep eyes, was doing 
her best to entertain a little bald-headed, baby-faced 
gentleman, who, Harry told me, was the leader in 
chemical experiments made in the interest of science 
in this country, — consequently, greatly admired by 
my uncle. 

" We have no opera at this season of the year ; but 
how would my litte cousin enjoy one of Theodore 
Thomas's concerts ? I will do myself the pleasure of 
escorting her to one this evening, if she approves." 



BROWN EYES AND OOLD EAIR 65 

" Appi-ovcsJ you know I shall only be too happy." 

" Evidently not a society fib, for your eyes shine 
like two " 

" Gas-lamps,'' I interrupted him, as all in a glow 
of delight I looked over at Mr. Greydon, who made a 
melancholy attempt at responding to my gay smile. 

I felt almost wicked to be so happy when he was 
ill trouble. I noticed that he ate almost nothing, and 
I tried to realize what that evening must be to him 
which was so bright for me. 

lie had given up his church, and with it every- 
thing. It was a terrible thing to do. Yet he had 
said that his life would be a living lie, if he contin- 
ued in the ministry. He had acted from conscientious 
motives, and I could not condemn him, but I did 
wonder at and pity^him. Once he brightened up 
and listened eagerly to what was being said about 
him. Mention was made of Tyndall's then just-ex- 
pressed opinions on nature's sufficiency, and some one 
laughingly referred to that scientist's " prayer-gauge." 
I inferred that the whole company was with him in 

his conclusions. Suddenly Mr. B glanced at 

Mr. Greydon, and said : 

" We have forgotten that our young friend here 
is in arms against such fellows as Tyridall. Pardon 
us, Mr. Greydon." 
" I have laid down my arms, Mr. B • If all 



L 



^^ BROWN ETES AND GOLD HAIR 

the parsons on earth should fight ag^nst a fact I 
don't think they could kill it." 

" Not even although the sun should stand still to 
give them light to do battle by?" responded Mr. 

B , laughing. But what do you mean by laying 

down your arms, Mr. Greydon ? " 

" I have left the Church." 

A silence followed this announcement. It would 
seem as if even the Tyndallites were not prepared to 
congratulate him. I think he felt disappointed. In 
a moment ho said, in a bitter, dissatisfied tone : 

" And now, friends, tell mo what to do. I cannot 
be idle." 

" Take up the smallest, the aj)parently most insig- 
nificant branch of any one science, and you will find 
that you have more work on your hands than you can 
accomplish in one lifetime. There is a universe in 
every atom," answered the chemist 

" A universe in every atom," sighed Greydon ; 
"and yet the life of a man is but three score years 
and ten. After that — what ? " 

" Madeira of 1836," said my uncle, as Turner placed 
on the table, with drawn corks, two cobwebbed bot- 
tles. " It drowsed for thirty years in the cool dark- 
ness of Don Careno's vaults, where it wasted away 
from three butts to two. Fresh glasses, Jean ; and, 
Marion, you must have a thimbleful, for we are going 



BROWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR 67 

to drink — ' Success to Doctor H 's theory that we 

think with our spines.' " 
Small glasses of exquisitely thin crystal were filled 

m 

witli the pi-ecious wine, and we all drank my uncle's 
toast. Then Harry said to me in an aside that it 
would be an hour yet before the coffee was served, 
that it was already seven o'clock, and we must excuse 
ourselves. He did this very quietly to his mother, at 
a time when all were preoccupied, and I slipped out 
of the room on his arm, almost or quite unobserved. 
I was eager to go to the concert, yet I cast back a re- 
gretful glance at the brilliant dining-room, where I 
had feasted soul as well as sense. 

"Are you always so quiet, little Marion?" Harry 
asked, as we were whirled along the street on our way 
to the hall. 

" No, indeed, cousin. But I talk the most when I 
have the least to say. I've gained so many new ideas 
since day before yesterday that I'm smothered under 
them." 

" You have gained a new bounet, too, have you 
not ? " 

" Ah I two of them, besides my travelling-hat. Do 
you like this one ? " 

" Turn your face this way, and let me see." 

I turned my face, very obediently, and he looked 
until I decided that he had had time to make up liia 



68 BROWN ETES AND GOLD HAIR. 

mind, and then, blushing, I turned in the opposite 
direction. 

"Brown eyes and g(»ld hair look well under a 
soft, fluffy white bonnet," he said, deliberately, 
" particularly when the forehead is fair and girlish 
and the eyelashes long." 

"If Madame heard you, sir, she would be justly 
offended. If there is anything she dislikes it is vanity 
in a young lady ; and you are wilfully trj'ing to make 
me vain. But I defy your efforts 1 " 

"Then Madame never told you that your com- 
plexion was like rose-leaves under snow, that you had 
cunning little ears and a smile " 

"No, cousin, no! She never did. She was a 
truthful woman. She gave me a great deal of good 
advice. She used to write in our copy-books, years 
ago, when we had copy-books : * Beware of the flat- 
terer, who is ever false.' " 

" But she did not bid you beware of those who 
were never false ? " 

" Did yon know that Mr Greydon thought of leav- 
ing the ministi-y ? " I asked, to change the subject, 
and because I had been tliinking about it ever since 
we left the house. 

" I suspected it. Does it seem very dreadful to 
you?" 

" Yes, Harry, it does. I never could imagine my 



BBOWN ETE8 AND GOLD IIAIR 69 

father doing such a thing. I suppose I measure 
other ministers by his standard. Let me tell you 
one thing: Mr. Greydon need not hope to make 
himself more interesting to Margaret by such a 
change. She does not care a straw for him, and she 
never will." 

" Aha I shy eyes under long lashes see a good ways, 
it seems. You are right, little cousin, about that. 
Margaret is a peculiar girl. She has never yet been 
in love. When she does love a man, he will be of a 
very different type from the Eev. Gray Greydon." 

I looked out at the gay, lighted street, and kept my 
lips shut. It was plain that my companion did not 
know what I knew about Mr. Vervelde. I was too 
womanly to betray another woman. Until I was cer- 
tain that Vervelde retunied my cousin's regard, not 
a hint should drop from me to her or to any one. 

"If he don't love her, I wonder why he don't," I 
thought. "He could scarcely look higher, in this 
country, and she is so beautiful, so intelligent, so 

superior to other girls. I wonder if I like him " 

but here the carriage stopped in front of the concert- 
hall, and my chain of thought was broken. 

"We will walk over and take a stage home, 
Michael," Harry said to the coachman, as we alighted. 
"Now, lady Marion, if you arc really fond of music, 
you have a pleasure before you." 



\ 



70 BROWN ETEa AND GOLD HAIR, 

" I am sure of that, cousin." 

And it proved so. The charm of music is a double 
charm; so sensuous that at times it seems nothing 
better tlian sensuous, yet so spiritual that its essence 
evades the senses entirely, and permeates the soul with 
a subtle sweetness not of this world. Some music is 
like a gilded ladder — it rests on the earth, but on it we 
can climb and climb until the angels snatch us up and 
lay us down at the feet of the Unspeakable One. 
Conventional ideas these, about angels 1 1 know 
very well that music is but a mode of motion ; but I 
cannot be satisfied to speak of its effects in these dry 
words. 

The music, instead of driving out the thoughts that 
had occupied me, intoxicated me and vivified my feel- 
ings, lighting up the past two days likealamp placed 
before a picture. 1 saw Vervelde cleai-er than I had 
when in his presence the previous evening. I tried to 
find out for myself what manner of man he was, but 
I failed to read him, which might be expected, since 
he had puzzled wiser people than L 

"Who is Mr. Vervelde?" 

I made this abrupt inquiry in an interval of the 
performance when a buzz as of honey-seeking bees 
took the place of the orchestra. 

" Do you mean, what is his profession, calling, busi- 
ness?" 



BROWN JSTBS AND GOLD HAIR 71 

" Tell me anything you please about him, Cousin 
Harry. You know I am interested in all your 
visitors, — I am one of the family, now. I shall 
be at less disadvantage when I know more of your 
friends." 

" I don't know that we rate Vervelde as a friend," 
he answered, slowly. " Yet we prize his visits very 
highly. He is almost the only young man that my 
sister cares to talk witli. Most people feel flattered 
by recognition from liim ; but if you were to ask me 
why, I could not tell. Young Slabs, our next-door 
neighbor, is a millionaire, and I do not believe Ver- 
velde has a dollar over three thousand a year, yet 
even Miss Fitz Foodie prefers a bow from Vervelde 
to a bouquet fi-om Slabs. I suppose Vervelde's charm 
is in the fact that he is just a man of the world, and 
nothing else. He has no business to occupy his time. 
He spends his life in being agreeable to himself 
and others. Occasionally he goes down into Wall 
Street and operates. When he does, he is sure to bo 
snceessful. He has put me in the way, two or three 
times, of making something handsome. Wlien he gets 
money in that way he goes to Paris and spends it — 
then comes home to economize. He would make a 
splendid financier, but he won't trouble his head 
about it. He does not act like a man who intends to 
marry. If lie luul such intentions he would apply 



72 BROWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR 

himself to business and lay up something to marry on. 
— as I am doing," — laughing. 

" Oh, Ilarry ! are you engaged ? " 

" Not quite." 

" But you expect to be? You are in love 3" 

" Don't you breathe another word, or Thomas will 
take the conceit out of you, little one," whispered he 
" There ! he is looking at you now. You are keeping 
tlie whole orchestra waiting," and he smiled behind 
my borrowed fan at the timorous glance I cast at 
the great leader. 

lie would have had time enough to answer my 
questions, for it was a full minute before the first note 
fluttered fi-om the violins. 

" I shall have something to tease you about now. 
Mister Ilarry," I thought, and then abandoned my- 
self to the music. 

When we reached home at eleven o'clock my aunt 
and uncle had retired to their apartments ;— only 
Turner, who was the family factotum, was waiting 
np to close the house. I bid Ilarry a gay good-night 
on the stairs, and went into my room, where the first 
thing I did was to turn up the lights on either side 
of a long mirror and take a good look at myself, 
studying the ^ brown eyes and gold hair' as if I liad 
never seen them before. I suppose I was trying to 
see them with Harry's eyes. 



BROWN EYES AND GOLD MAIR 73 

As I untied the broad lace strings of the new 
bonnet a bell not far away tolled out eleven on the 
night air. 

'' Only one hour to the beginning of the holy Sab- 
bath," said conscience. " Put away all your vanities, 
child, and fit yourself for to-morrow." 

In ten minutes the pretty gray silk, the luee mantle 
and ornaments were put neatly away, and, robed in 
my long white night-gown, I sat down by the little 
table which now held my Bible, and took up the 
precious book — doubly precious bec^ause it had once 
been my mother's. 

I could scarcely open to a page in the New Testa- 
ment which she had not marked ; the most glorious, 
as well as the most comforting, passages in Isaiah, 
Job, and the Psalms were traced about with her faint 
pencillings. As I read, I seemed again to be a little 
child at home in the old parsonage, saying my prayera 
at my father's knee. All that those gentlemen had 
said at the dinner-table about the prayer-gauge faded 
from my mind. " How lonely 1 should be if I could 
not pray," I said to myself. Humble and happy, I 
bowed my head in reverence, and munnured: "Onr 
Father, which art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. 
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as 
it is in heaven. Forgive us our trespasses, as we for- 

gi\e those who trespass against us. Lead us not into 
4 • 



74 



BBOWN EYES AND GOLD HAIR. 



temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the 
kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. 
Amen." 




CHAPTER V. 



VERVELDE. 



So, bending his whole heart nnto this end, 
He watched and waited, tnisting to stir to fire 
The indolent interest in those laige eyes, 

— Tennyson, 



A rogue of canzonets and serenades. 



—Ibid, 




NCLE and I breakfasted alone on Tuesday 
morning, beginning the ceremony at eight 
o'clock. Nora, the parlor-maid, waited on 
UB BO long as we required her services, and then went 
out, leaving us to ourselves, and we had a nice chatty 
time. 

Turner and Florette had gone to Newport with 
lilrs. and Miss Maxwell. Margaret had apologized to 
me for taking Florette, telling me that Nora could 
assist me at my dressing ; and I had laughingly as- 
sured her that I was glad to be rid of her French 
maid, and quite used to waiting on myself. 

Such a time as Florette had on Monday packing 
the trunks I Three apiece for the ladies. And I had 



-* A,- 



/ 



76 VERVE IDE. 



Bat by, as amused as if at a play, watching her fold 
one exquisite dress after another, and lay it in its 
})lace. Wlien the baggage was brought down and 
placed in the express wagon, Ilarry's one travelling- 
bag looked absurd beside the mountain of trunks i-e- 
quired by his mother and sister. 

Harry went to Newport, too, but only for a day or 
two. 

Mr. Vervelde had called for a few minutes on 
Sunday evening. 

Mr. Greydou had taken lunch with us on Monday, 
and had seemed more cheerful. I did not see Mr. 
Vervelde, for I was at church with Harry, but I no- 
ticed on my return that Margaret was brilliant. 
On this morning the house was pretematurally quiet, 
and most inviting to me. I scarcely knew which I 
wanted most — to get to my studies or to " rummage." 
I was not half acquainted with my new home yet; but 
1 remembered my resolution to give four hours every 
day to study, and I would not commence by break- 
ing it. 

Without system, notliiug would be accomplished. 

As I put sugar and cream into the large porcelain 
cofFee-cup which I filled for my uncle the second 
time, I said : 

" Are you prepared to keep your half of the com* 
j)act^ Uncle Maxwell ? " 



1 



VEBVBLDB. 77 

"Have I entered into a compact with you, little 
girl ? " 

" Certainly. I am to study four hours a day, and 
yon are kindjy to direct my reading for the present ; 
in the fall, I believe, I am to have regular tutors." 

" You are in earnest, Marion ? " 

" Yes, indeed, Uncle Maxwell. I have time and 
strength and opportunity ; ought I not to make use 
of them ? " 

" Something to spare from your worsted- work and 
dressing, eh ? " 

" Oh, it does not take me long to dress. See I I 
have donned one of my school-uniform dresses on pur- 
pose to make study seem natural." 

" But you must have exercise, my dear. HF' you 
are busy with books until lunch time, when will you 
get necessary exercise ? " 

" I'll manage. I was out from six until seven, Un- 
cle Maxwell, walking on the Avenue. And I shall 
use the dumb-bells by-and-by." 

" Up at six ? " 

" We rose at that hour all the years I was in 
school." 

" Then perhai)s we can breakfast at seven, or half- 
pa^, while we are leading such a quiet life. I pre- 
fer it, if you do." 

'* I do, uncle." 



/ 



78 VER VELDE. 

" Then I will speak to Thebot ; — he will grumble, 
but I shall insist." Looking at me curiously, as if ho 
could not quite make out how nnich of an infant I 
might prove, he continued : "Wliat arc^ your ideas? 
Do you wish to pursue the langiiages ? " 

'* Not now, uncle. What I am dying to know, now, 
is a little something about the world we live in — how 
the world came, and the people in it, and all the other 
things. Of coui-se I studied the school Geology, and 
Botany, and Natural Philosophy, and Physical Geog- 
rapliy — ^just A-B-C's. I know that the toughest ig- 
ncous rock was i*ained down from the surrounding 
gases upon the hissing earth. I know that plants 
and animals are built up out of cells. I know that 
thei'rts supposed to be an ultimate atom out of wliich 
the uni verse is constructed. 1 can analyze flowers, and 
know that the sj^ectroscope analyzes light just as 
easily, and has betrayed to us the metals in Jupiter 
and other planets. I know that the sun is by no 
means the calm Apollo that he appeai-s, but is in a 
state of inconceivable commotion ; and I would like 
to know a great deal more alK>ut him ffian I do. And 
about all tliosc othec things. . ' - 

A laboratory would be more fascinating to me 
than a novel ; and 1 would prefer a microscope 
oi)era-glass — to say nothing of choosing a telescope 
for my lightest toy," I added, laughing. ''But I 




VEBVELDE. 79 

don't conceal from yon, uncle, that I'm awfully fond 
of fans and opera-glasses and works of fiction." 

" So am I," was the dry response. " A fine poem 
or a good novel is a feast for the gods. As for 
pearl-handled fans and diamond ear-rings, they are 
not to be despised. The same Power that made the 
rock made the violet in the cranny. I like flowei*s 
and babies and pretty young girls. Now, Marion, 
I can tell you a truth — ^you cannot know everything. 
Choose some one thing, and make it a specialty." 

" Then let me go into your laboratory, Uncle Max- 
well. Margaret told me th^ you had one at the 
bottom of the house." 

" Are you willing to blacken your fingers ? " 

" Yours are not black, uncle." 

" Sometimes they are." 

" Well, I am willing to run the risks. But I must 
read, too. Is there nothing tliat bears on religious 
matters?" I asked, hesitatingly. "I hear so much 
that is new to me. Uncle Maxwell, that I would like 
to gain some understanding of things." 

" Do you meAi that you wish to begin a course of 
devout reading t " 
^ " No— ;iofe that.^' . •;• 

^'^oujp^iBerw that we speak of some things quite 
differently from the conventional theologists, who do 
not themselves really believe what they say." 



80 VBBVBLDm 

" Yes, uncle." 

" Perhaps you think the scientists are busy writing 
books against religion ? " 

^' I don't know." 

"Well, my dear, they are doing nothing of the 
kind. They are as busy as bees gathering facts, and 
recording them. They just simply relate their abso- 
lute discoveries. If these conflict with certain forms 
of religious belief, which are to go down, the imper- 
fect conceptions of imperfect men, or the facts? I 
t^ll the theologists that they must cut thei'r faith to 
fit the proportions of Nature. They ought not to be 
afraid of the truth. No, Marion ! I do not propose to 
smooth over matters to you, or even to argue them. 
If you want to study for yourself such laws of the 
universe as are known to us, I will help you all I can. 
But you must never say or think that / destroy your 
faith. Nature will not lie to you, be sure of that. 
Come down stairs with me, my dear, and I will show 
you a trick of nature's worth seeing. It is fairy- work, 
and we have not yet found out tlie magic of it, but 
are inclined to call it magnetic force." 

I followed him down a long flight of stairs and en- 
tered a large, gloomy room in the basement. The 
floor of this room was covered with plates of zinc in- 
stead of Anbosson carpeting — the ceiling was smok- 
ed — tJjcie was a furnace in place of a grate — shelves 



VERY ELBE. 81 

and tables innumerable — a revolving table with a 
microscope near one of the two windows which 
opened on an area next to the pavement — crucible, 
retorts, prisms, rows of bottles carefully labelled, 
blowpipes, curious instruments of which I did not 
know the name, and, standing against the wall, white 
cloth screens of various sizes. * 

" The billiard-room is across the hall," remarked 
my uncle. " You must learn to play with Harry, — 
the exercise will be good for you. This is my work- 
room. I take a great deal of comfort here. Some- 
times I get an idea, and then verify it by actual ex- 
periment. You know Tyndall says that without 
imagination the scientist would make few discoveries 
— that imagination, a glowing, creative fancy, is as 
necessary to an explorer amid the wonders of nature 
as to a poet. It is so. Many important discoveries 
have been made in that way. Now you shall see the 
fairy alchemist at work at her mysterious process of 
crystallization." 

With this and with the exhibition of nicely-pre- 
pared specimens under the microscope two hours 
went quickly by. I saw that Uncle Maxwell did not 
wish to weary me at the beginning, and so amused me. 

" I shall have you, in a few days, so that you can 
prepare and color all my new specimens for me. It 
is dainty work, but not difficult." 



f 



MfcJthi^^ 



82 VERVELDK 

" Oh, tliank you." 

" Aiid now you must i-ead until one o'clock, my 
dear. Go up to the library, and in the case next to 
the door, ou the riglit hand of the second shelf, you 
will find Darwin's * Origin of Species.' Read care- 
fully, and think as you read. I shall ask you some 
questions at the luncli-table." 

" Whei-e siiall I find a school-room, uucle f " 

" Anywhere you like. Choose the room you fancy 
most" 

So I carried my book to the saloon, and there, 
curled up on an oriental divan, with white statues 
and bright pictures for company, and Mr. Muq)hy 
grinning at me from liis niche — I was t(X) comfortable 
to rise and draw the curtain before him — I com- 
menced my acquaintance with Darwin. 

One o'clock came with surprising swiftness; though 
I discovered tliat 1 was fainislied as soon as I heard 
the tinkle of tlie l>cll. Uncle Maxwell talked with 
me about what I had read, and then, as if sch(X)l 
were out for that day, he began telling me about the 
country and his summer pla(;c up the Hudson, how 
deserted tlie citv now was, but what numbers of 
young lady-friends I would make in the autumn. 

*' I am half afraid you will regret not going to 
Newport,'' he said, as he looked at his watch after 
eating very lightly. " I shall be out all tlie afternoon, 



VBRVBLDB. 83 

and perhaps until ten this evening. Some brothers 
from Philadelphia are at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, 
and I am to meet them at two. There may be a 
dinner at Delmonico's afterwards, — I don't know. 
Will you be homesick, ray dear ?" 

*'I thiiik not," I answered, mutely wondering how 
it would seem to take dinner all alone in the great 
dining-room. " I've enough to keep me busy all the 
afternoon. I hope Herr Halm will not come." 

" If he does, make him play for you. If you would 
like a drive to the Park, I will order Michael to 
take you there at four o'clock." 

" I would like it, uncle, very much.'^ 

" By that means you will escape Herr Halm until 
six o'clock." 

" And I have never seen Central Park." 

" Then you will be amused, — and good-by till we 
meet again," — giving me his hand and smiling at me 
kindlv. 

Uncle Maxwell went off to meet the Philadelphia 
M.D.'s, and I took a little more exercise in the way 
of a ramble over the house, which was as interesting 
in works of art as many museums. I was still too 
new to it to receive anything more than a general 
impression nH time I would learn to individualize the 
creations of the sculptor and painter, and even the 
ornamentation of the delightfully various rooms. 



84 VEUVBLDE, 

" Sure, an' miss will be dreadfully lonesome," re- 
marked Nora, contriving to meet me several times dur- 
ing my round. 

" Oh, no !— at least for a while I shall not." 

'• Then will ye sphake down the tube when ye want 
me to button yer boots an' the like % I shall l)e in the 
laundry a-doinjf meself a few collars. I'm to wait on 
miss, faithful, the ladies said." 

"Yes, Nora, I will speak when I want you." 

So at three Nora came up to assist at my carriage- 
toilette. She approved of the black silk dress, black 
lace mantle and white chip hat with blue trimmings 
which I selected. I went down to the drawing-room 
to wait for Michael, and oi>ened the grand piano, 
making it answer to my foolish, happy, restless mood. 
At four, promptly, Michael came to the door with an 
elegant little phaeton and pair of black ponies. I 
wanted to drive these j)onies myself, but there was a 
driver's seat, and I did not know the way to the park. 

" I'll drive them some day,'' I asserted, as I took my 
seat. 

" Yes, miss, when we go in the country. There are 
fine roads about Dashkill, an' the ladies are out a 
great deal. These are Miss Maxwell's ponies; but 
she said as I was to take you out after them, miss." 

Dear Margaret 1 always so generous to me. I loved 
hur xhexi with an admiring love that admitted of no 



VEBVELDE. 85 

comparison between us. She was the queen, I the 
subject, and a loyal one. 

In twenty minutes we were at the gates and liad 
passed into the beautiful park. If I had owned two 
pairs of eyes I could have kept them busy, there were 
so many people, so many children, such lovely grass 
and trees, such splendid carriages rolling along the 
smooth roads, such flowei-s and fountains, such dazzling 
white clouds curling themselves to sleep in the deep 
blue sky of June : 

** It iB the time when lilies blow 
And doads are highest np in air." 

We had abnost completed the round of the park, 
and were again near the mall, when Michael half 
turned liis head and said in a low voice : 

'' There's Mr. Vervelde sitting on a bench, miss." 

I suppose Michael thought I knew so few people 
I would be glad to see any one I had met before ; 
otherwise I cannot account for his forwardness in 
giving me this information. I looked, and saw the 
gentleman, who recognized me, and, as I bowed, lifted 
his hat and aix>se as if with the intention of speaking. 
So Michael drew up beside the grass and Mr. Ver- 
velde came U) speak to me. 

"Is this Miss Gutlirie's wraith ? I supposed her to 
be in Newport." 



86 VERVBLDE. 

'•"I preferred staying with my uncle, Mr. Verveldc. 
You must remember that New York is new to me, 
and therefore interesting." 

" Even in summer ? " 

" Y'es, I am only an untra veiled school-girl, easily 
pleased. But a person who has been all over the 
world might -still find something charming here to- 
day, I should think." 

" I have been enjoying it, in my own indolent way. 
It's a dernier ressort, however. How is Doctor Max- 
well ? " 

" Well, thank you, and going to dine with some 
learned doctors at Delmonico's. I shall take my 
dinner with * Zimmerman on Solitude' by my plate 
to encourage me. That is, if the yellow-haired Ilerr 
does not intrude upon my desolation. I trust he will 
noty for 1 am afraid of him." 

"Afraid of him?" 

"Of his terrible German metaphysical conversa- 
tion. I an] such a little goose, I shall not be able to 
open my mouth — except to put my f(X)d in it." 

" lie will not mind that, I assure you. A good 
talker likes a good listener. But if you i-eally suffer 
from apprehension. Miss Guthrie, I am at your service, 
in the character of defender. Take me home with yoxi^ 
and I will see tliat the llerr does not annihilate you." 

Did Air. Vervelde want me to invite him to dinner ? 



/ 



VeRVELDE. 87 

I could not believe it, aud looked at him with such a 
doubting smile, that he laughed softly. I was far more 
afraid of him than of poor llerr Halm ; the idea of 
two or three hours of playing hostess to a guest like 
Vervelde was distressing. And I could not see why 
he wanted to afflict himself with my company. lie 
did not stand in need of a dinner, like the poor musi- 
cian. Perhaps he was teasing me. With this idea I 
looked up saucily — 

" If you will dine with me, Mr. Vervelde, I shall 
be most happy." 

" Thank you. Then it is an engagement." 

** Will you have a seat in the phaeton and finish the 
drive with me ? " 

" That is what I was so bold as to ask you for. Miss 
Guthrie. With the greatest pleasure," and he placed 
himself by my side. 

Dozens of ladies and gentlemen bowed to my com- 
panion as we passed on and out into Fifth Avenue. As 
if with some purpose of his own quite separate from 
me, he assumed an attitude of absorbing devotion. 

" lie is playing me off against some one whom 
he wishes to make jealous," I thought, and was not in 
the least flattered. 

I knew, too, that Mr. Vervelde had taken a liberty 
which his intimacy in my uncle's family might or 
might not justify. He had presumed on my inex- 



88 ' VEBVELDB. 

perience in thus inviting himself to join me. Not that 
to be thus distinguished was not a compliment ; but 1 
felt, quickly, tliat with Mrs. Maxwell or Margaret he 
would have adopted a different mode of procedure. 
Perhaps he discovered that I was not such a child as 
not to know that he was making a catspaw of me, for 
he said, presently, as we approached the house : 

" I hope I do not annoy you, Miss Guthrie. I have 
a standing invitation to Dr. Maxwell's dinner-table, 
and I really did not know what to do with myself 
this afternoon. Tiie blue devils were after me, and 
I felt certain that in your bright company I should 
outwit them." 

I could not tell him that he did annoy me. In 
fact, any little uneasiness which I felt at first soon 
w ore off, for this man of much experience knew how 
to make himself agreeable to me, and I was not long 
in beginning to think it an act of kindness on his part 
to help me spend pleasantly the hours that otherwise 
would have been monotonous. 

It was six o'clock when we entered the house. The 
first sound that greeted our ears was the swell of the 
organ. 

''llerr Halm is in the saloon. Shall we go up 
there ? " 

Koia canie to take my hat and parasol, and I told 
her there would be three at table ; then we went up 



VERY ELBE. 89 

to the saloon, and walked about, and Mr. Vervelde 
talked about the pictures, and the sunlight flooded the 
old cabinet and some of the canvases on the wall, and 
the sweet strength of the great instrument blended 
with the sunlight. Somehow, the man beside me 
seemed a part of it all. lie talked on and on in his 
low, musical voice that seemed almost confidential, 
though he was only telling me of the statues in the 
Vatican and the old pictures in the old churches of 
Italy, — and something of the gondoliers of Venice 
and of eating ices in the square of St. Mark, and see- 
ing the sunset blush on the ancient breast of the Lion. 
Herr Halm was good enough to keep on playing, and 
to let my companion talk. 

I looked up at Mr. Vervelde after a while, wonder- 
ing that I had thought him ugly when I first saw 
him. I wished that I could have been one of the 
party who travelled with him in Italy, for he appeared 
to have an eye that observed everything, even to the 
stray sunbeam that plunged with the oar into the 
gloomy canal. I even felt an unreasonable jealousy of 
Uiose who had been with him. Surely he had never 
talked to any one just as he was talking to mc then. 
He paid me no compliments — only took it for granted 
that (»ur mocxls were alike, and that wo felt this to be 
a iKJculiar hour, which everything conspired to make 
enjoyable — ^good pictures with a good light on them ; 



^^tL: 



90 VEBVELDE. 

a quiet converbatioii ; some one to fill up the paiifies 
with a rush and thrill of music, as of birds dividing 
the bhie air ; a l>reath of roses hanging idly at the 
windows; a slow promenade up and down the gallerj', 
with the eyes of painted beauties seeming to move 
and follow iis. 

This was not New York whose air we breathed — 
this was not my uncle's house — but a room of some 
fair palace in some summer land, far away, far away 
in some region as rich with the traditions of centuries 
as Rome itself. 

Wlien I look back, now, in the light of all that oc- 
curred afterward, I cannot accuse Mr. Vervelde of 
flattering me, or misleading by one word or tone, on 
that evening when he came home with me. He 
treated me as if I were a friend who understood him, 
to whom he rx)uld chat unreservedly during a chance 
sunny hour. Alas ! that was what charmed me. I 
thought of Margaret, who loved him. / did not love 
him — would never love him — but I did not wonder 
that she did ! 

Nora came to tell us that dinner was readv to be 
served. Ilerr Halm jumped off the organ-stool with 
laughable haste — he was hungry, no doubt — and of- 
fered nic his arm. 

" Do you know," said Vervelde to him, " that I am 
only here because Miss Guthrie is afraid of yout 
JIj' presence is to givp her coxvrag^.^^ 



VERVELBE, 91 

" Afraid of ?/itf," sighed goldilocks, looking at me 
witli wide-open, childish blue eyes. " Perhaps that I 
am a cannibal ? " he added, hazarding a guess. 

" Nothing so terrible as that, Ilerr Halm. Only I 
am such a little ignoramus I cannot talk with you 
gentlemen. I am not learned li^e my cousin, Miss 
Maxwell ; and I feared you would discover it." 

" Fraulein Maxwell, ah ! " murmured the musician, 
laying his disengaged hand on his heart, and looking 
up as if she were in heaven instead of Newport, so 
that I had to hold him back to prevent his stumbling 
oflE the top-stair with me. 

It was the same as if he had told me I could never 
ex^x^ct to equal her ; but I knew that before, and was 
not the least bit disconcerted. We had a charming 
little dinner, for Th^bot was too much of an artist in 
his way to treat us to a slovenly repast in the absence 
of his master, — a " feast of roses " too — the gardener 
having sent down from Dashkill about two bushels of 
them, half of which were in the dining-room. From 
being frightened I began to be triumphant, and 
thought to myself : " If those girls at Madame's could 
see me now I " 

Perilous triumph of fair and foolish eighteen ! 

Mr. Vervelde had the grace to go away when Herr 
Halm did — about an hour after dinner. Before he 
went he asked me if I were going to write to my cou- 



. -• -■ T.'.^ 



92 



VERVE LDB. 



Bin. I told him that I had promised her a budget of 
news twice a week. '' Then, please don't forget to tell 
her how good I have been to her representative," and 
he laughed. 

I did not forget ; when I wrote the next day, in 
lieu of much otherinews, I gave Margaret a graphic 
description of my little dinner-party and the way my 
acquaintance with Mr. Vervelde was progressing. 
That I was vain of it is not to the credit of ray stability, 
but it is the truth, and I am bound to tell that, when 
unpleasant as well. as when flattering. I thought 1 
was getting along famously with my uncle's friends, 
and that I must have had some little power to exor- 
cise the blue-devils of which Mr. Vervelde had com- 
plained. 





CHAPTER VI. 



0APB-JA8HINB. 




Now, who shall arbitrate ? 
Ten men love what I hate, 
Shun what I follow, alight what I reoeiye : 
Ten, who in ears and ejes 
Match me ; we all surmise — 

They this thing, and I that :" whom shall my soul believe f 

— Brourning. 

BUSY fortnight followed on that day. Each 
morning was spent in study and in the labora- 
tory. My inind opened to new ideas like a 
bnd to the dawning. Two or three times, to amuse and 
instruct me, Uncle Maxwell made some beautiful ex- 
pcriments with light ; but his whole soul was given, 
just then, to investigations of his own in quite anotlier 
direction. The study of medicine had given a bias 
to his tastes, and he naturally took most kindly to the 
development of the mysteries of animal structure. 
Tlie nervous system was his specialty. lie had some 
frogs sent to him from Dashkill in a box. I proved 



^4 CAPE-JASMINE, 

a miserable assistant, for I fainted the moment he 
took one of the long-legged, white-vested gentlemen 
out of tlieir travelling carriage ; and after that uncle 
would have me down stairs witli him only an hour of 
each morning, as he needed the remainder of the 
term for his experiments, which I was too squeamish 
to witness. 

We had nice, gay little luncheons together. At 
dinner and through the evening, there were two or 
three visitors, always gentlemen. I had nothing to 
say to these after the compliments of the day were 
passed ; but I had ears and used them well at table. 

It was a strange fortnight to me. My perceptions 
were intensified, like those of a person in a fever. I 
read more, thought more, lived more than ordinarily 
I would have done in half a year instead of half a 
month. Two or three times uncle looked critically 
at my flushed cheeks and brilliant eyes, warning me 
against over-study ; but I would not allow him to feel 
my pulse, flying from him with some laughing denial, 
for I knew it would betray me. 

New feelings were being developed as well as new 
thoughts, but of those my uncle knew nothing : he 
had entirely missed the meaning of Vervelde's visits 
to his house. 

Strange and exciting as was my new experience of 
emotion my mental experience was equally so. So 



OAPE^ASMINB, 95 

many of ray long-drilled ideas were put to rout by 
what I Baw, read, and heard, that the whole army of 
them was "demoralized;" nor could I attempt to 
reform my companies then. Many of my soldiers 
came straggb'ng back, but many more had deseii;ed 
me forever. 

The air I breathed in uncle's house came fresh 
from the newest-discovered fields of knowledge. 
Hitherto I had lived the life of a good little girl, 
loving her parents and her God with a child's trusting 

« 

and unquestioning affection. Now I was forced to 
think for myself — to ** try all things," as St. Paul bids. 

I was given a passing glimpse into the intei*miuable 
vista of the real universe, and was overwhelmed even 
with the little I could see. Oh, how beautiful, how 
terrible, that universe was 1 What a feeling of awe 
and desolation came over me as I thought of dead 
worlds spinning about, breathless and senseless, in 
their orbits ! What a dream of wonder and delight 
to imagine the long twilight of their first day brighten- 
ing into glory over other worlds and the germ life, 
deeply slumbering in the darkness, awakening at the 
warm touch of the fingers of light, and putting forth 
its first conscious effort. 

Yet, fascinating as was every glimpse along the 
vista, and vivid as was the pleasure of seeing Nature 
at work, with a few simple elements, building her in- 



96 CAPE-JA8MINE. 

finitely varied Btructures, there was an accompanying 
pain that was a sort of terror, and keen as any mental 
pain, save one, that I have ever suffered. I seemed 
to be losing the Maker out of His works. 

The kind, friendly, loving Father, who had always 
been so near to me that I could ask Him for my daily 
bread, retreated farther and farther. Everything, 
from a star to a plastidule, was more interesting and 
more astonishing, when I was told how it was evolved, 
than it had been when I supposed it the result of an 

* 

act of special creation ; yet, at the same time, it was 
less satisfying. I felt deserted, home-sick — like a lost 
child, crying for its parents and told by stranger voices 
that it has no longer a father. 

" Oh, uncle," I cried, one morning, as he was leav- 
ing the table, rising, and catching his hand, " tell me, 
do all the wise men of to-day think that Matter and 
Force are First Parents of the Universe ? — that there 
is no God?" 

"Not at all — not at all. The most advanced 
thinkers believe it to be impossible for us to know 
God ; but tliey do not deny His existence. Sound 
reasoning forces us to infer a Law-maker from the 
presence of Laws. But it is absolutely impossible for 
us to frame the most shadowy image of God — far 
more impossible than for human thought to travel 
the li^ng road betwixt us and some far-away sun on 
the extremest limit of our te\c€.co\>\e \\ew.'* 



CAPB-JASMINE. 97 

" But, uncle, surely we can know Him through 
Eevelation ? " 

" Perhaps. There is no harm, and some comfort, 
in thinking so." 

" Wait a moment, uncle dear. None of these men, 
even those who admit this unknowable Power, believe 
in a future life ? " 

" The argument is against it, little girl." 

" Are you satisfied^ uncle, to think so ? With this 
earnest desire to know more, burning so intensely, are 
we to be snufFed out ? " 

" Do you think the energies we see at work will 
pause to ask us whether or not we are satisfied ? I 
suppose the worm would shrink from death, if he 
knew enough to foresee it, with quite as much horror 
as a Huxley would. Marion, have you been out for 
your walk this morning 1 Your cheeks are too red." 
^" Yes, uncle. I was out nearly an hour. I saw 
the loveliest golden little clouds floating about over- 
head 1 Didn't I wish I was sailing about on one of 
them ! " 

" Another instance of yearning after the unattain- 
able," and, smiling, my uncle drew his hand out of 
mine, and went ofF to his laboratory. I did not visit 
him that forenoon, nor go to my books ; I shut my- 
self up in my bedroom, and walked up and down 
the floor, sometimes crying, sometimes praying, wish- 
5 



98 CAPE-JASMINE. 

ing, wishing tliat I could see throngh the veil. Since 
that time of doubt and trial, I have read a brief and 
most touching confession of Carlyle's, of how, in his 
youth, when he was just out of the university, he was 
so troubled by the Great Problem, that he shut him- 
self up for four weeks, scarcely eating or drinking, 
suffering mental agonies ; and that, when he emerged 
from the terrific battle with himself, the demon 
Dyspepsia was finnly lodged in his stomach and had 
maintained his home there from that day. My 
weaker nature was incapable, I hasten to admit, of 
such a stniggle. I turn pale and shudder when I 
think of the mental throes of such a heroic soal. 

But my religion had been a large part of my 
young life ; and I could not give up my habit of 
taking it on trust — without question, as I took the 
morning, or the smiles of my friends — and not suffer 
more or less. 

" As I did not see you down stairs, I infer you were 
lost in some intricate plot of some labyrinthine novel,^ 
remarked uncle, as we met at luncheon ; and I allowed 
him to think so. 

The evenings I generally spent alone in the saloon, 
except when Ilerr Halm came up to play the organ, 
and three times when Mr. Vervelde also sought out 
my retreat and re-enacted the part he had played on 
that first afternoon. I considered myself at liberty 



CAFE-JASMINE, 99 

to read novels in the evening, after my hard work 
during the day, and had finished * White Lies ' and 
several other fascinating stories before the fortniglit 
was ended. I wrote about all that occurred to Mar- 
garet, of course about Mr. Vervelde's visits. 

But, of course, not aU about those visits. I gave 
her no impression of the great effect those visits had 
on me. How could I tell her — my proud, beautiful 
cousin, who I felt loved him — that I, too, loved Regi- 
nald Vervelde, and believed that he loved me % 

One languid morning, the last day of June, I arose 
and dressed myself in a wliite moniiug-robe instead 
of my school-uniform, which I had previously worn 
as an incentive to study. This was to be a holiday, 
for Aunt Maxwell and Margaret were coming home 
and would be here to breakfast. Harry, too— who 
had sent home for more clothes and remained with 
his mother and sister, and who, Margaret had written 
me, had found the young lady at Newport who had 
charmed liim in Boston three months before — was 
coming. 

Mr. Greydon had been up in Vermont on a visit 
to his mother, and he had taken Newport in the route 
back, and would come on with our party. Uncle 
Maxwell had asked Vervelde to breakfast with us. 
All this was enough to account for the pretty white 
French jnorniug dress. 



^';::^^J5AX 



100 OAPE-JASMINB, 

I had some flowers in a vase in my room — flowers 
which Mr. Vervelde had brought me the previous 
evening. It seemed like bringing coals to Newcastle, 
for the house was alive with the choicest beauties of 
the garden and greenhouse, sent down from Dash- 
kill. But there were some cape-jasmines in Vervelde's 
bouquet, and these I had not seen before. I selected 
these silver stars to set in my hair and the bosom of 
my dress. 

We were not to breakfast until nine. About half 
past seven our friends arrived, in the carriage sent 
for them, from the boat. I was in my room when I 
heard Margaret's step passing my door. My heart 
sank; a guilty blush burned all over me. Why? 
Had I wronged my cousin whom I adored ? Yes, I 
felt that I had stabbed her in the dark. 

" I can never, never, never in this world be happy 
again ! " I moaned. " Oh, I am willing to give him 
up, — but can I undo the charm I seem to have 
wrought upon him — can I place him back at Mar- 
garet's feet, where he was when I camet" 

I opened the door and walked into her room. She 
turned toward me, and I rushed into her arms and 
kissed her passionately. She returned my kiss, and 
held me off and looked at me, saying how pretty I 
was, how much I had gained in color and expression. 

" But yon are pale," I cried, with tears rising. 



CAPE^ASMINB, 1 0] 

" Am I ? '' — and then those beautiful eyes rested 
on my jasmine flowers. 

" Where did you get those ? " she asked quickly, 
almost with a cry. 

" Mr. Vervelde brought them to me, last evening." 

She studied my blushing, drooping face a moment ; 
her 0¥m had an inexplicable eltpression. At last she 
said, with bitter kindness: 

" It is a habit he has. He gives cape-jasmines to 
every young lady whose acquaintance he makes, 
Marion.'' 

" Then I don't care to wear it. He is coming to 
breakfast, I believe ; and I'll discard these and wear 
some rosebuds out of the garden." 

" I would, if I were you. If there is to be com- 
pany, Florette, you must find me something fresh. 
I can't appear in this travelling-dress." 

Both of us were playing indifiFerence which we did 
not feel. I went back to my room and removed the 
cape- jasmines. I made a movement to throw tliem 
out of the window, but drew back and laid them 
between the leaves of a book. 

" I will keep mine," was my thought, " for he is in 
earnest with me." 

I went to greet my aunt, who was also busy dress- 
ing, and I soon left her. As I came out of her room 
I met handsome, happy Harry. 



103 OAFE^ASMTSB. 

lie <!nnglit my hand. " 1 am engaged — 1 will 
answer you now, little consin — to an angel." 

" An angel I Beware of a future divorce for ' in- 
compatibility of temper,' " 

" Beware of sharpness, my pet, or the men will be 
afraid of you." 

" Dreadful punishment I Kather duloeas than jeal- 
ousy. But just tell me, this miuute, all about her, 
Harry. Is she pretty ? " 

" She is the cnaniogest little brunette beauty you 
ever saw. Melting black eyes, coral lips, slim, supple 
little figure — oh, what's the use of trj-iug to describe 
her ! I have her photograph — here it is. Her 
mother gave it to me, without Nellie's knowledge. 
Ilow do you like her ! Isn't she an elegant little 
ci-eature J Briglit, too." 

" Bright, charming, stylish, handsome, everytliing 
nice 1 I congratulate you ! " 

"Just your age, Marion. Rather j'oung; but I 
promised her mother I would wait a year for 
her." 

He took the picture out of iny hand ae if he had 
spared it long enough. 

I walked on into the saloon, for Harry was on his 
way to the thii-d floor, and wandered aimlessly about. 
I felt forlorn. I had no mother to give me away. I 
knew then, as well as I know it now, that my love for 



CAPE-JASMINE. 103 

Mr. Vervelde would never make me happy. It is 
strange that I knew it — stranger still that, knowing it, 
and knowing, too, that I had allowed myself to fall in 
love with the young man, I should have y ifelded to the 
fascination. Much more in accordance with my taste 
and affinities would it have been for me to have chosen 
Mr. Grey don for ray loving. Yet I said to myself that 
I would rather be miserable with one than happy with 
the other. Not that it was in my power to choose, 
or that I ever dreamed of marriage with Mr. Vervelde. 
My thoughts had not gone so far as that, except tliat 
I had resolved, if he ever did ask me to be his wife, 
for Margaret's sake I would say, "No." 

" Oh, if Ihad never left school — never come liere ! " 
I cried silently, " we should then all of us have been at 
peace," and pausing and looking up I found myself 
face to face with the skeleton. 

1 cannot tell you the impression which it made on 
me, coming on it as I did so unexpectedly, and in the 
mood wliich held me. It was something as if it had 
reached out its bony hand and caught and crushed 
my quivering heart with a Remorseless power like that 
of fate. I felt intense pain. When 1 could think at 
iill it seemed to me j s if God had flung me out over 
the abyss of worlds, with only Ills reaching hand to 
cling to, and that was being withdrawn, and I was fall- 
ing. Why did I live ? Why was it that I must die \ 



104 CAPE-JASMINE, 

A skeleton in every house! Alas! was there not a 
skeleton in every human being — not the framework 
of his body, only, but the lurking Death, the inevi- 
table counterpart of Life? And should not death 
have the masteiy and turn upon the place where we 
had been, and grin, when we were not? Doubtless it 
was what I had heard, read, and seen, in the last fort- 
night, that gave this turn to my thoughts. I had 
hitherto taken everything for granted, as a child does, 
but now 1 was beginning, in my weak, childish way, 
to ask questions. A time of doubt and terror must 
come to every intelligent mind ; it had come sud- 
denly upon me, because my circumstances had 
changed suddenly. I had become conscious, too, that 
with all my faith in Chi'ist, and all my prayers, 1 was 
in danger of not doing right half as willingly as my 
cousin, who professed nothing. I was astonished at 
my own selfishness. 

I must have stared up at the skeleton with a look of 
dread and entreaty, for presently I heard a low, sar- 
castic laugh. 

*' Are you sa} ing youj^ prayers to the fetish. Miss 
Guthrie?" 

I turned to meet the piercing eyes of Mr. Vervelde, 
and blushed, as if they had power to I'ead my thoughts, 
and I had been thinking of him, and of how 1 had 
abandoned myself to the temptation of loving him, 



/_ 



CAPE-JASMINE, 105 

even while feeling that in such a love for such a man 
there never would be rest and peace. 

" It is dreadful to me to think of death," I answered 
faintly, to conceal from him, partly, how much I was 
thinking of him, too — '^ I am so young and full of 
life and fond of everything good in this world." 

" It has always puzzled me, the hesitancy with which' 
you Christians accept the invitation to * cross the 
river.' If I believed as you do, nothing but the fear 
that suicide would close the gates on me would 
prevent my forcing myself into heaven. My antici- 
pations would be much keener than they were when 
I started, the first time, for Paris. Therefore, I con- 
cluded long ago that you don't really believe what you 
believe you believe." 

" Don't you believe in a future life, Mr. Vervelde % " 

" What a question to ask me before breakfast I " 

" Please answer me fairly." 

*' There are some objections to a future life in my 
mind. Miss Guthrie. I will state one of them now, 
for I am never philosophical when hungry. Of course 
you do not deny that the creature Man arose slowly 
out of protoplasm. At what definite point in his long 
age of development did he cease to be an animal and 
become an immortal ? If man is immortal, the first 
batch of protoplasm is immortal. And so, truly, I 
tliink it is. In proving the indestructibility of matter 
5* 



106 VAPE^ASMINK 

we prove the indestructibility of miu(L I believe in 
mind. I am not a Materialist, like your uncle. There 
is a spirit behind matter, — there is a law wliich matter 
must obey, and without which tliere would be no con- 
sciousness of any tiling. Without mind there would 
be no perception of matter. Now we know tliat 
matter, though ever the same in quality, passes 
through constantly chan^ng forms — as the bones of 
a certain Governor of Coimecticut passed into an apple 
tree, and helped to enrich the fruit, and were eaten 
as apples by his descendants. From tliis 1 argue that 
the immortal principle within us, although indestruc- 
tible, is changeable, and therefore we lose our person- 
ality ; and without personality who cares whether he 
is immortal or other^'^ise? Not I, my dear made- 
moiselle. And so, I bother my brains no more about 
it, but take all that I can lawfully get each day, and 
contrive to have somq pleasure without too much re- 
sponsibility. We did not bring ourselves into the 
world — we will not take ourselves out of it Let 
nature take care of us. By the way, this introduces 
very nicely another subject on which I desire to speak 
to von." 

lie cast a glance around the saloon; there was no one 
in it but ourselves, lie lifted one of my hands, kissed 
it lightly, and said : 

'^ It has come upon me, as much to my own surprise 



/. 



CAPE-JASMINE, 107 

as it will be to yours, that I can live happier with joii 
than without yon, sweet Marion. I had no thoughts 
of marriage, or of a home of my own, until within the 
last few days. I do not know what you have done to 
me to make me eager to give up my idle freedom. 
But so it is. Let us not delay our happiness, sweetest, 
until we are without will like this Murphy here. Let 
us make the most of every hour of love. Can my 
little saint learn to love a man like me? " 

" No, no, no ! " I murmured, scarcely knowing what 
I said. ^^ 

"What is the * no' of a timid girl? I don't mind it 
You must and will love me — ^you do already, as we 
both know. I should not have spoken so soon, but I 
want your uncle and his family to understand my relar 
tions with you, from the first. 1 shall ask permission 
to-day to pay my addresses to you, little witch." 

" No, nol " I cried again, helplessly. " Don't do it ! 
My uncle knows that I am only a little girl-^that I 
have everything to learn. He is teaching me, and I 
must study hard. DonH speak to him about me, 
please." 

" Well, say that you love me, Marion, and we'll talk 
of that afterwards." 

"I cannot say that — ^I — it would be only — ^half 
true." 

" Then it is half true I " 



108 CAPE^ASMINE. 

"Did I say so?" 

" I understand it so, and am quite satisfied. It gives 
me something to do to win the other half of your 
unwilling love. Let us get away from Mr. Murphy, 
Marion. Fortunate! v, he cannot tell tales." 

It chilled me a little to look from the dark, glowing 
face of him by my side to the grinning skeleton, who 
had stood sentinel, as it were, over our little love 
episode. I hastened to take Vervelde's offered arm, 
and we walked once around the saloon. I was trem- 
bling and changing color, and hehad to wait for me to 
grow more calm before taking me down to the draw- 
ing-room. 

I would not go down with him, but made an excuse 
tliat I must go to my room for a handkerchief, where 
I went and remained some minutes, so that I did not 
witness the meeting between my lover and Margaret 
My lover ! yes, he had said so. Yet 1 felt half indig- 
nant at the way in which he had taken my love for 
granted — had asserted his knowledge of it. Ilad I 
shown it so plainly? 

" He will find that he cannot make me marry him," 
I muttered. "Ko matter how much I love him, he 
shall not make me say it, so long as Margaret feels as 
she does. I don't want to see him again. I am glad 
wo are going to the country to-morrow. I suppose ho 
will not follow us there." 



CAPEJA8MINE, 109 

1 tried to overcome the aijitation which mastered 
every nerve — the tremble of wonder, joy, remorse — 
the thrill of heavenly elation, and the icy sinking of 
my heart at the premonition that I loved where I onght 
not. My excitement must have been apparent when, 
Florette knocking at my door, said that my aunt had 
gone in to breakfast and had sent for me, and I went 
down alone. 

I was thankful that my place was beside Mr. 
Greydon, and on the same side of the table with Mr. 
Vervelde, so that I could not see him as we sat at 
breakfast. Every tone of his voice sank into my 
heart as he conversed calmly with Margaret. 

Mr. Greydon was in a tranquil mood. He had 
fought the £ght out with his mother as well as his 
church, and was enjoying the calm that comes after a 
storm. He expected to be appointed to a professor- 
ship during the summer ; and, if my cousin had smiled 
on him, he would have been well content. He had 
another struggle before him — ^that of overcoming his 
hopeless love — but he had not begun that yet, and 
seemed himself, this morning, in the brightness of her 
company, without thankless anticipation. 

Harry was like a boy in the highest spirits. His 
mother kept admiring eyes on him the most of the 
time. He made us all laugh a dozen times by his 
reckless exuberance of gayety. 



110 CAPE-JAaMINE. 

"I think I will not go to tlie country with you just 
yet, my dear," said my uncle to my aunt in the course 
of the breakfast. " I am, as the children say, * awfully ' 
busy." 

" That is the very reason I urge for your going, 
doctor," was the response. " You are as thin as a 
rail from overwork. You told me, not half an hour 
ago, that you had not been sleeping well." 

"Give me just one week, my dear, and I promise 
to stay at Dashkill until you are ready to leave it. It 
is very inconvenient for me to break off just now." 

''Then I must give you the week," with a sigh. 
" But, no coaxing after that ! " 

" And will my little pupil remain with me?" 

" No, uncle — not this time. I am wild to see the 
coimtry." 

" Then I will make a list of the books you are to 
take up with you. There will not be more than six 
or eight of them, but they will be tough.'' 

" Thank you, uncle. Do we go to-morrow ? " 

" Yes, on the morning boat," answered my aunt 
" One thing ! Margaret's trunks and mine are packed. 
There will be some things to go up, but Turner will 
attend to them. Michael went this morning, after 
bringing us here, with the horses and carriages. Mr. 
Vervelde, do you intend honoring us with a visit, 
during our stay in the country ? " 



CAPE-JASMINE. 



Ill 



"If yon are so good as to invite me, certainlyj 
Mrs. Maxwell." 

" Come and spend a week with us, early in August 
The house will be full of company then, and we shall 
have some gay goings-on." 

1 had refused to remain with my uncle, when I wanted 
to do so very much, because I wished to escape Mr. 
Vervelde until I should have time to question myself 
about my sentiments toward him. It was a month 
to the first of August ; until then he should have no 
answer from me of any kind. 

I avoided being alone with him again that day, and 
on the following we left the city. 









CHAPTER VIL 

MABOARET. 

'* I hear the wild bee wind hia horn, 

The bird swings on the ripened wheat. 
The long green lances of the com 
Are tilting in the winds of mom, 
The locast shrills his songs of heat.*^ 

— WhitUer. 

*" * Am I mad that I shonld.cherish that which yields but bitter fmit ? 
I will plnck it from my bosom, though my heart be at the root.** 

— Tennyson. 

'ARRY did not come np to Drowsydell — ^my 
uncle's sleepy name for his country-seat — 
once during the first month of our stay there. 
He was busy on Wall Street during the week and on 
Saturday afternoons went to Newport to visit his 
Nellie. My aunt did not invite any one to share our 
solitude during that time. She said that July was 
her month of absolute I'est, without which she would 
be unable to endure the constant cares of a lai^e es- 
tablishment like their home in town. She wanted to 




MAROlRET. 113 

sleep three-quarters of the time, and the remainder 
to have for her very own, in which to take a review 
of the past and consider the future, to read, dream, 
and enjoy the beauty of the country. 

Drowsydell was the place of places for such recu- 
peration. It lay a mile to the north of Dashkill, on a 
bit of table-land at least an hundred feet above the 
river-bed. Old Dunderhead peered down on it, the 
mountains rose behind it, a stretch of lovely country 
lay beneath it ; from the west and south piazzas of the 
house the river was visible, rolling in a flood of sil- 
ver at the foot of the hills. 

The house was a real cottage — not a villa — two 
stories in height, with an old-fashioned flat roof, and 
piazzas, wide enough to dance the Lancers on, running 
about three sides. Its only claim to luxury was in 
its size ; there were ten large rooms on the first floor 
and sixteen somewhat smaller ones on the second. 
In addition, the kitchens and laundiy were detached, 
and had comfortable bedrooms over them for the ser- 
vants. There was a lodge at the gate and two cot- 
tages for the gardener and the farmer, my uncle own- 
ing about forty acres of land running back on the hills. 
Amplitude and simplicity must have been the two 
ideas out of which Drowsydell had been shaped. 

A broad lawn sloped very gently away from the 
house, its emerald expanse but slightly broken by 



114 MABOARET. 

groups of foUage. Years of constant attention had 
made this lawn like velvet, and a tiling for the eyes 
to rest on with delight. To the north was a fine native 
grove — to the south at least an acre of flower-garden, 
which, when we arrived, was in a blaze of bloom. 

The house was furnished very simply — up-stairs 
with matting on the floor and muslin curtains at the 
windows. But four rooms were furnished with cre- 
tonne, my aunt considering it too warm and heavy 
looking for summer bedrooms. 

The floor of the large, airy dining-room was dark 
and waxed — no excuse for dust in the air. There 
was a billiard-room ; a cool north room with honey- 
suckle at the window, dubbed the " study " because 
there was a case of books and a writing-table in it ; 
two large, square parlors on opposite sides of the wide 
hall; my aunt's sitting-room back of one of them, 
facing the "study" aforesaid. Then there was a 
charming morning-room, overlooking the river to the 
west, and in which we breakfasted as long as we had 
no visitors ; also " the doctor's room," where, when he 
came, he installed his microscope and such " traps " 
as he was pleased to bring with liim. 

The house reminded me of the parsonage in which 
1 had spent my childhood. I had left the city house 
with regret, for I had not half exhausted its resources ; 
but I had no sooner arrived at Drowsydell — ^which 



MAROARBT. 115 

was not really a dell, but only a shelf on the hillside — 
than I felt myself completely at home. Here, had 
not Reginald Vervelde so strangely and suddenly in- 
truded into my life, I should have been perfectly 
happy. It is a curious admittal to make, that, loving 
a man and having his assurance that he loved me, I 
was less happy on tliat account. But this was the 
truth. My love for Mr. Vervelde was only a fasci- 
nation, and this I faintly perceived and feebly strug- 
gled against. He did not resemble in one particular 
the ideal which, as a girl, you may be sure I had 
formed. 

Yet I adored him with a kind of passionate i*esig- 
nation, feeling that, to use a paradox, I should be 
happy to be miserable for his sake. Then, too, it was 
glorious to love him, knowing there was a bar to our 
future relations — for I was as intensely loyal to Mar- 
garet as infatuated with Vervelde. 

Vervelde had respected my request that he would 
say nothing at present to Doctor Maxwell ; for my 
nncle, on coming to Drowsydell, did not mention it. 
I was glad that I could still remain, in his eyes, a 
little girl. For the first week or two I constantly 
tried to tell Margaret the little but important episode 
of that last day in town, but my tongue was tied every 
time I began, and I finally gave up the resolve. 

I did all I could to banish him from my conscious- 



116 MARGARET. 

nesB. The attempt drove me more deeply into my 
studies. 

There is nothing in my girlish experience worth 
relating, except the effect on my mind of those studies. 
Very likely that is not ; but, in the faint hope of help- 
ing others who have had to go down, or will go down, 
into the sea of speculation, I will give what I can of 
my experience. I had come to my uncle's house as 
honest and devout a little Calvinist as ever lived. 
In six weeks my ship of faith was scuttled and went 
to the bottom, and I was left to struggle with dark 
waters. In religious matters only was I troubled. 

My studies were deeply interesting, nor did Uncle 
Maxwell discuss theology with me. But he laid be- 
fore me, in books and lectures on many themes, the 
theory — if you can still call that a theory which is 
proved beyond the possibility of a doubt — of Evolu- 
tion. 

And he allowed me to see what the effect on his 
mind of that theory was — ^how that Nature was, work- 
ing by the process of evolution, sufficient unto herself 
— or, as Tyndall has since tersely expressed it, 
"Matter contahis within itself the promise and po- 
tency of every fonn of life." 

" A good many religionists," said my uncle in an 
aside, "admit the philosophy of evolution — with a 
reservation. The law holds good for star and rock, 



MABOARET. 117 

for plant and animal, for everything, in short, but 
man. Here a new and antagonistic law must be 
framed to suit the emergency" — spoken with that 
dry smile which always powerfully affected me. 

'* Can Uncle Maxwell be wrong and I be right ? " 
I asked myself, and so the saw of Doubt gnawed at 
the stout plank of Faith until, as I said, the ship went 
down. But the loss of faith did not make me a 
settled Materialist. I clung tenaciously to such wreck 
of the vessel as strewed the waves. Not yet had I 
gone so far as to break the promise made to my dying 
mother — not yet fallen asleep at night without earnest 
prayer for guidance, and thanks for all tlie bliss and 
beauty of my young life. The fiercer the doubts that 
dragged me down, the moi'e intense my cry for help. 
1 prayed oftener and longer, but 1 was not at peace. 
As my uncle said, if I wanted to be sure of any- 
thing, I must abide by the facts. A fact could not 
be wrong. 

"If all the priests in the world should breathe 
their anathema against that truth in mathematics that 
two and two make four, would you deny the fact ? " 
he once asked me. 

" No, uncle." 

" Yet such is the attitude of a majority of them." 

It was not often, however, that he made any refer- 
ence to the religionists. lie just placed before me 



f ■ 



118 MABGABET. 

the remarkable discoveries being made by the 
scientists, and allowed me to draw the inference. 
But he could not fail to influence me, the more so 
that he was a man whom I admired and respected 
beyond any other, — ^a most benevolent, generous, 
pure-minded gentleman, a Christian in practice if 
ever there was one. 

I was eager after knowledge — all the more eager 
that I felt that I never again could have peace until 
I settled some questions for myself. 

As the assistant of my uncle in his experiments — 
which he carried on in a limited way in his room at 
Drowsydell — and under his patient direction, I ac- 
quired information in a few weeks which mnch time 
in a school would not have given me. I learned to 
color and mount the specimens for the microscope, 
and the microscope itself was a teacher that told me 
how the whole univei*se was mirrored in an atom — 
how the Spirit of God dwelt as largely in littleness as 
in greatness. 

When I marked the chasms which lay between the 
beaten grains of steel I think I was more astonished 
than when, afterwards, I looked through a telescope 
and saw the sun throwing out a jet of hydrogen an 
hundred thousand miles in length. 

My uncle had presented to him a tiny lump of 
something hard — a portion of the contents of the 



MARGARET. 119 

stomach of a mastodon — and we put it in its proper 
bath, and I confess to a thrill of emotion when, in 
three or four days, 1 looked through the glass at a 
beautiful bit of fern which the creature had cropped 
some emerald-tinted day during the carboniferous era. 
Thus every hour of study was rich in thought-pro- 
voking themes. It was not in my nature to rest, 
until I had come to some conclusion satisfactory to 
myself, now that the question had been raised in my 
mind as to the Origin of Things. 

Of course you laugh, but 1 disarm your sarcasm by 
saying at once that I am entirely aware of my own 
insignificance, and that I did not expect to compete 
with scientists. I only desired to learn what was to 
be learned of them, and to satisfy the religions part 
of my nature by some answer to its questions. My 
uncle, so noble, so intellectual, so scholarly, was a 
Materialist, — why ? I wanted to know the points of 
liis belief, and to contrast them with those on which 
my father had pinned his faith. 

I was a most ignorant little beginner, and 1 was also 
a romping girl when out of school. Margaret and I 
played croquet by the hour on the long snmnier 
afternoons when the shadows of the hills fell pleas- 
antly over the lawn. We rode and drove the black 
ponies along sweet-scented country roads. In the 
evenings we had the papers and the magazines, and 



120 MABQABET. 

the piano, but without Herr Habn to play for 
us. 

I adored Margaret — I never could regard myself as 
fit to be her friend ; and indeed, though kind, and 
fond of doing charming things for me, she was never 
confidential. 

Very quietly, but very swiftly, July drew towards 
its close. 

1 had discovered and appropriated a fine study- 
parlor, where 1 passed many wonderful hours, rich 
with the disclosures of books and aglow with the 
loveliness of nature. Exploring, one afternoon, the 
great garret which stretched out, low and wide, 
under the flat roof, I found a flight of steps of 
ladder-like steepness leading up to a trap-door, on 
raising which, and stepping up, I found myself on 
top of the house, in an enclosed square at the centre 
of the roof, with a splendid panoi-ama outrolled on 
every side, old Dunderhead overwhelming all with 
his superior grandeur. 

" What a place for me and my books 1 *' 

One night, from taking a slight cold, I was some- 
what feverish, and, not sleeping so well as was my 
habit, I was glad to leave my bed at the unearthly 
hour of half-past three or thereabouts. It appeared 
to me, tlie night having been unusually close, that 
it would be pleasant np on the roof. I threw a 



MABOARET. 121 

shawl over ray dressing-gown, felt in the dim dawn 
for a book I had left on the chair by my bed, and 
stole noiselessly up to the garret, and from thence to 
the roof. 

The dim, wide-spreading landscape wore its most 
charming expression at that hour when it was just 
possible to tell that the night was no longer night, 
although the morning had not come. The stars were 
supematurally large and bright, all the smaller ones 
having been extinguished. In the east there was a slow 
brightening of tlie horizon, but as yet, not a tint 
of color against the silver blue. All was sweetness, 
strangeness, and silence. The faint dawning both 
revealed and concealed the hills, the line of ghostly 
mist which betrayed where the river ran at their base, 
and the nearer forms of trees standing motionless. 

A heavenly fragrance came up out of the flower- 
garden such as it never breathed in broad daylight — 
a blending of violet, heliotrope,and rose with the volup- 
tuous sweets from a bed of white lilies, and the pecu- 
liar pungent odor of wet leaves. Perhaps the dark- 
ness made me more susceptible to the dewy distillation 
of these perfumes ; I drew a deep delicious breath, but 
could not get enough of it. 

The bushes, down on the lawn — I coul ■ see but 
the verge of them — stood like hiding children who 
in a moment more would burst forth from tlieir con- 
6 



122 MARQABET. 

cealment All was vagae, Bubdaed, shadowy, yet 
touched with a light more felt than seen. I saw that 
Earth was awake and silently waiting, all-alive, yet 
repressed, ready for the signal soon to be hnng from 
the mountain-top. While she waited there was no 
sound. Even the crickets who had screamed all night, 
thought fit to keep silence. 

In a few minutes the air trembled, the leaves shiv- 
ered — a breeze as light as a breath ran through the 
land. Then a silver arrow shot over the hills, giving 
the signal to the waiting earth that it was four o'clock. 
That instant every bird awoke. A perfect Babel of 
sounds proclaimed the multitudinous animal life. 
There was a humming of insects in the grass. But 
the birds had it their own way ; with a musical 
clamor as of a million silver-tongued clocks they 
struck the hour. 

1 was surprised. I had been up at four at least once 
before— when I left school for Uncle Maxwell's — ^yet 
1 had not then had time to realize with what a tumult 
the dawn is welcomed. 

The birds jabbered and trilled for dear life, fol- 
lowed by a chanticleer of Drowsydell, who stretched 
out his neck of green-and-gold, flapped his wings, and 
set out brassily to crow the birds down. Near and far 
1 heard his cry answered from the sentinels along the 
bastions of the morning. 



MARGARET. 123 

" 1 am glad that I came up here, " I thought. " I 
wonder if Mr. Vervelde, who has searched the world 
over for a new gensation, ever arose to see a summer 
sunrise ? " 

I heard a noise behind me, and turned, rather 
startled, to see the trap-door rise as if by magic, but 
when I saw Margaret's sweet face, pale in the weird 
dawn, floating up out of the nether darkness, my 
alarm sul>sided. 

" What ar<? you doing here, Marion? I heard you 
pass my door, feather-footed as you are, and, fearing 

4 

you were ill, I arose and followed you, and have come 
to a strange place." 

" Not so strange as it is lovely. Come up and see 
for yourself." 

She climbed to my side, and we stood with our 
arms about each other's waists. 

" I have been over Egypt, Italy, and California," 
she murmured, " but I never took the trouble to rise 
early and see something quite as wonderful as the 
Pyramids, and at my own door," — adding, as she gave 
me a little squeeze: "but you were sure to discover 
it, Marion." 

"Only by an accident." It was a good time to 
say something of what was brimming over in my 
soul, and I spoke in a trembling voice : 

" Margaret, to me every blade of grass, every leaf 



124 MABOARBT. 

and drop of dew, the breath of the flower-garden, and 
yon mist-wreathed summits, are eloquent of Qtxl." 

" Ton are a little enthusiast," she responded with a 
sigh. 

" Dear, darling cousin, may I tell you how it dis- 
tresses me because you make out all this order and 
beauty to be self -evolved ? I would as soon lose the 
sunlight out of the landscape as Grod out of it" 

" There's where it is, foolish little Marion. If yon 
lost the sun you would lose Grod too. For the Cre- 
ator whom you endow with a loving personality is 
but the Furce which dwells in matter itself." 

" Alas, Margaret." 

" Another thing. I am not one of those who think, 
or affect to think, that everything that is, is right 
I think pain might very well have been left out of the 
order of things. Look at that spider ! He was made 
with an appetite, and the poor fly which he is devour- 
ing was made to gratify it You and I are spiders, 
too. We cannot escape our destiny. According to 
your theory the fly should rejoice to be eaten, as only 
j thus does he fulfil the purpose of his being. We 
i ought to experience only the most exquisite pleasure 
I in being ground between the tteth of what your peo- 
ple call Providence." 

" Margai-et, you are aj t to mistake my propo- 

fiitiODB." 



MAROABET. 126 

" No, dear, but I take them in a wider sense than 
you do. For my part, 1 think nature is horribly re- 
lentless. We are bound on every side by implacable 
laws and limitations. It makes me wicked and rebel- 
lious just to know that wickedness and rebellion do 
no good. However, I am glad that I do not feel the 
responsibility of living as you do, Marion. If there 
is a Cause for my being, let that Cause justify itself." 

"You talk like Mr. Vervelde." 

I felt the arm aroimd my waist tremble as I spoke 
that name. 

" Why % " she asked after a moment, with affected 
carelessness. "Has he talked with you on these 
weighty matters ? " 

" Not much ; only a few sentences inspired by Mr. 
Murphy." Then, in the loneliness and dimness of the 
morning, I took courage to tell her what I had so long 
deferred, and which it had now become imperative 
for me to betray, as a visit miglit soon be expected. 
Hiding my eyes on her shoulder I faltered : " Mar- 
garet, I don't understand it myself — it is strange to 
me — I ought to have told you before, tliat " 

" What is it, Marion ? " in a low, cold, steady 
voice. 

" Tliat Mr. Vervelde has askfed me to— to love him, 
and share his future." 

She pushed me away and held me at arm's length. 



jhd 



126 M ABO ABET. 

"You? Vervelde?" 

" I know it is absurd, Couflin Margaret. 1 never 
ehall be bis wife — I know that ; but he is coming here> 
and you ought to know." 

" Do you love him? " 

" 1 suppose I do." 

" Oh, I hope not 1 " 

" Why ? Do you know anything against him ? lie 
seems to occupy a good position in the friendship of 
this family." 

" He will never make you happy, little cousin." 

" He will never have the chance. I tell you, I will 
not marry him." 

" It is my turn to ask ' why ? ' " 

" I can't tell you," I answered, looking down, for 
the light was increasing, and she could read my face 
with those piercing eyes of hers. " I don't think I 
shall ever marry any one, but stay with Uncle Maxwell 
and let you get married. That would suit me better. 
Besides, I am quite certain that Mr. Vervelde does 
not reallv love me." 

" Then it is wicked of him to ask you to love him." 

" He could be wicked if he wanted to ; and he's an 
irreligious man. I am half afraid of his power over 
me. U I were never to see him again my heart 
would not be broken ; yet, as sure as I am in his so- 
ciety, I shall grow to be his very slave. There's the 



t 



>■ 



MARGARET. 127 

plain truth, cousin. Perhaps you can tell mo what to 
do." 

" No, I cannot advise you. He would be angry if 
he learned that I advised against him. I am the last 
one to interfere between you. I am sorry that you 
met. But Ile£:inald Vervelde is not a bad man. I 
don't think he would l)eat his wife, or desert her. 
lie has no bad habits. As far as I know his life is 
faultless in morals. I must say nothing to chill 
your admiration of him. If you love him at all, 
Marion, love him with your whole heart, and try to 
make him happy. I must return to my room, — 1 am 
chilled." 

She had come up in her thin night-dress, without a 
shawl. Slie looked so pale that I was uneasy, and 
would have gone down with her, but she would not 
allow it. 

•* How miserable I am," I sighed when she was 
gone, " all because I allowed that man to make love 
tome. I am resolved now to break with him. I can 
ask God to conquer my feeling for him. When 
he comes I will tell him that I do not care for him 
enough to make any promises, and ask hira to let me 
alone." 

I made this resolution honestly, not realizing that 
1 liad stepped into the quicksands, and that it was not 
so easy to walk out of them. 




m il » Jw w 



128 



MARQARET. 



It was quite light enough for me to read now ; but 
I was too disturbed for that I stretched myself on a 
bench which ran around the railing and gazed up at 
the blue infinity. The rose of dawn bloomed in it 
and fell apart, a flood of gold saturated the ether, 
and the sun had risen. An a^^ul sense of the ix>wer 
and meaning of nature oi>pressed me; my own p<H>r 
little troubles shrank away and hid themselves. 

" I will not give up my God," 1 cried, stretching 
out my hands. " This universe would be woi-se than 
meaningless without Him. They will not find Him, 
because they disown llim when they meet Uim face 
to face, but I will find llim even in my own poor, va- 
cillating mind." 




CHAPTEE VIII. 



A SUMMEB 8 NIOHT. 



Alas I poor knight, poor knight t 
He carries the foe he cannot fight 
In his own tme breast shut up. 

— Owen Meredith, 




So mid sweet song and taboring, 
And shoats amid the apple grove, 
Began the /new King Michaers reign. 

— William Jfarris. 

REMEMBERED, with a feeling of pleasure, 
that my aunt had only asked Vcrvelde for a 
week. I was glad, too, tliat I had at last told 

Margaret of our relations. I dreaded meeting her at 

the breakfast table, some hours after our conversation 

on the roof. 

It proved there was nothing to dread. She was 

paler than usual, but very gently attentive to me. 

Two or three times I met her eyes fixed on me in a 

kind of wonder. 

" It is because he loves me,'' I thought " She does 
6* 



/ 



130 A SUMMER'S NIQHT. 

not wonder as much as I do. I cannot nnderstand 
it." 

Xor could I. I felt all the time a sense of mystery, 
and was dissatisfied. 

Ilerr Ilalm had once told me that my cousin was 
considered one of the most accomplished ladies m 
society as well as the most beautiful. 

I was pretty in my way — ^a gay, innocent girl, with* 
bright eyes and long lashes, gold hair and a \f ild-rose 
color — but I was not like Margaret. Neither was 
Vervelde a man to be taken with a " rosebud's " 
freshness. Of all otliers he appeai-ed to me the one 
to appreciate Margaret's mind and character, her posi- 
tion as one of the queens of society, to say nothing of 
her proud beauty. 

More than once a passing suspicion had shadowed 
my mind, and it came to me again that moniing. 

^ Is he taking this way to arouse her jealousy ? " 

Such a suggestion appeared to disadvantage in 
tlie light of the situation. If she loved him, as I be- 
lieved, no need to gain her interest in that way. 

My aunt sighed deeply over the delicate porcelain 
cups she was filling. '* Make the most of your vaca- 
tion, girls. This is the last day of July; to-morrow 
aftcrno<3n our friends will begin to arrive. For my 
part I would prefer another four weeks of playing 
hermit. I'm not half recruited." 



A BXTMMEB'8 mQHT. 181 

** Why did you ask so many people, my dear? Why 
not make Drowsy dell an hermitage only ? Yon wear 
yourself out/' said the doctor, looking over at his 
wife with some anxiety. 

" Yes, dear annt," I added, indiscreetly, " we were 
BO happy alone together." 

" You do not comprehend the necessity, my dear 
Marion," a little loftily. " If a woman is in society, 
she is no less than a slave to it. Then Dr. Maxwell 
has a large circle of friends. If I have two guests 1 
am just as much victimized as if I had a houseful. 
Indeed, I prefer two dozen to one, for then they 
amuse one another, and with a good corps of ser- 
vants, and Tumor to manage things, 1 don't mind 
it. The only way I manage to secure four weeks of 
seclusion — the doctor's position being so eminent, and 
so many people putting forth claims on us — ^is by 
giving the world to understand that I am at home in 
August." 

" But you hardly feel as strong as usual this sum- 
mer," interposed my uncle. 

" That is true," witli another sigh. " But my in- 
vitations were some of them given months ago. 1 
cannot withdraw them ; and I hardly think I wish to. 
Excitement agrees with me, after all." 

Aunt Maxwell was proud of her husband, and 
proud of her children ; possibly she had a little 



dfa^ 



L 



132 A SUMMER'B NIOHT. 

vanity on the point of her own powers of successfnl 
entertainment She knew well that an invitation to 
Drowsydell was highly prized by its recipient. 

"How many friends do you expect, Aunt Max- 
well?'' 

" All the way from ten to twenty. There are thirty 
invited for some jKntion of tlic month; but all will 
not be hci-e at one time." 

" Not much chance for study, Marion," said my 
uncle, 

" I am awfully sorry, dear uncle." 

My aunt shot a glance at me which I understood ; 
she did not fancy slang terms from the lips of young 
ladies. 

" I cannot say that I share your sorrow, little girL 
You need amusement, occasionally, I supix>se." 

" But I am not the least tired, vet." 
. " There is a time for all things, Marion — a time to 
study and a time to flirt witk the young fellows; a 
time to I'ead Sj>enecr and a time to be anxious about 
sash-ribbons ; a time to look for new asten>ids and a 
time to walk in the moonshine with somebody else." 

" I wonder when the time to read Spenser will be," 
I said, laughing. 

" Not until after the harvest-moon, that is certain. 
I expect nothing but that my little pupil will be 
coming to me before long with those long eyelashes 



A SUMMER '8 NIGHT. 133 

dropped, to say, " Please, sir, I know quite enough 
now. Clarence Fitz-Edwards has asked ine to marry 
him, and Pve got my cook-book to study and my trous- 
seau to superintend." 

I felt the blood bum in my cheeks, for his speech 
brought Mr. Vervelde into my mind. 

"You must get your color under better control, 
Marion," remarked my aunt. " You blush far too 
easily at present. Blushing is a habit that you can 
break yourself of just as easily as of biting your nails." 

" Is that so ? " I asked demurely, while the doctor 
laughingly remonstrated with his wife for her " world- 
ly maxims, preaching down a niece's heart." I could 
not look at Margaret, but I felt her gaze on my face. 

" Don't you wonder what came in the great pack 
age, by express, last night ? " asked my aunt, address- 
ing both of us girls. 

" I don't know," answered Margaret, wearily. 

" Come into my sitting-room, botli of you, and I 
will tell you, when we have finished our breakfast." 

" I have no doubt," said my uncle dryly, looking up 
from the letter he had just opened, "that it is tlie 
thigh-bone of the mastodon from ' Jersey.' " 

" Really ? " 1 asked, and then they all laughed. 

Uncle returned to the perusal of the half dozen 
letters beside his plate. Presently he looked up at 
his wife. 



liKb 



134 A tiUMMER'8 NIQET. 

" Your last day of grace has expired, my dear. 
Professor Globe arrives this afternoon by the four 
o'clock train. So does our young friend Lowell, who . 
has not been well lately, and asks permission to come I 
a few days sooner than we expected." 

" Poor Mr. Lowell ! " said Margaret softly. : 

"I am glad he is coming," my aunt responded, i 
warmly. I 

" He has disease of the heart," my uncle explained 
to me. " llis father and I are great friends, and he 
insists that I can do more for his son than anv one 
else. August is a trying month for invalids ; and I 
pmmised Aligre that he should spend it here under 
my care." 

" And now, girls, we will go and look at the mas- 
todon," said Aunt Maxwell. , 

We followed her across the hall into the sitting- I 
room. Florette was there and had removed the wrap- 
pings from a light box, long and deep, and taken off i 
the cover. | 

" Examine it at your leisure, young ladies — every- 
thing in it is yours," and aunt seated herself com- 
fortably in an easy-chair to watch our proceedings. 

The box had come all the way from Paris, and was 
full of lovely dresses, with scarfs, fichus, gloves, every- 
thing to match. Four of the dresses were for me, — 
two for Margaret, who really needed none. All were 



A BUMMETTS NIOHT. 136 

a present from my aunt, who had sent the order 
abroad as soon as I came to her from school. They 
were summer di'esses all of them, and exquisite. Mar- 
garet, of course, was calm — who was accustomed to 
rich and beautiful things, — but I was in a glow of 
excitement, and kissed Aunt Maxwell so many times 
that she may have repented her munificence. 

'^ Wear the white grenadine this afternoon, Marion," 
she benignly ordered me. " I want you to wear your 
pretty things while they are fresh." 

Here uncle put his head inside the door. 

"I've a little work for you this morning, Marion. 
The new prisms have come, and I will show you 
something quite as fascinating as new garments from 
Paris — which, by the way, are certainly pretty," he 
added, with an admiring look at the dainty costumes. 

I looked back regretfully at my finery, but I would 
not disappoint Uncle Maxwell, and was soon in a 
world where thoughts of my new dresses did not 
come, separating the strands of the golden thread, 
leading it through one prism after another to the po- 
larizing prism, and thence to a surface of indigo, from 
which the reflected light was analyzed — fairy work, 
that spun away the thread of time as well, until we 
wei'e surprised by the third summons to luncheon, the 
other two having smote our ears, perhaps, but not our 
consciousness. 



m 



136 A BUMMEB'S NIGHT. 

" Good-by to our pleasant mornings for some time,'' 
said imcle with a sigh, as we left the place of our 
labors. 

" Who is Professor Globe, Uncle Maxwell f " 

" Oh, he's a man learned in languages, lie's like 
a roll of papjms more tlian he is like a living man. 
He cares nothing, almost, about the progress of 
science, but talks of Plato as of one surpassing the 
mental stature of to-day. He can quote you a para- 
graph from every poem that was ever written down 
to Ghaucei*'s time, and much this side of it ; he spent 
three yeai*s in India, digging in that ancient soil for 
the roots of words ; he is as orthodox as you are, little 
puss, and a most excellent, unworldly creature, with- 
out senile, and without monev, too." 

The prospect of meeting either of the two gentle- 
men expected tliat afternoon did not disturb me. 
After luncheon I read a novel while Margaret in- 
dulged in a nap. It was an intensely interesting 
novel ; Florette had almost to take it out of my hand 
when five o'clock came, and I — Margaret having 
gone down stairs an half -hour previously — was still 
unwilling to be dressed. 

" ILis madenioiselle forgotten the white grena- 
dine?" 

Artful Florette ! I shut up the covers on my hero, 
and became interested in what was going on about 



A SUMMERS mOHT. 137 

me. It was six o'clock when she pinned a narrow 
band of black velvet about my head. 

" You want nothing else in your hair. The black 
velvet, almost hidden in clouds of gold, is most effec- 
tive, mademoiselle." 

I took a good look at Worth's costume in tlie mir- 
ror. It was certainly very becoming, and the warm 
day had deepened my bloom a little ; but Mr. Ver- 
velde was not to sec me, and I felt that I was to waste 
a delicious toilet on a " roll of papyrus" and an invalid. 

" I will read until dinner is announced," I resolved, 
and so I did. Finally, I went down late. Every one 
but myself had gone into the dining-room. It was 
half-past six, and the sun had not set. A yellow glory 
shimmered through the honeysuckles and roses which 
curtained the three long windows and played over the 
crj'stal and silver, the flowei-s and porcelain of the 
table; it glimmered over my hair, face, and white 
dress as I walked up the long room alone. Profes- 
sor Globe was seated at Mrs. ' Maxwell's right. My 
plate was opposite Mr. Lowell, the other visitor. 

I was introduced by the lady of the house as her 
niece and " adopted daughter." I was agreeably sur- 
prised in Mr. Lowell's appearance, which was little 
like tliat of an invalid. lie was about twenty-six 
years old, and was tastefully and carefully dressed. 
There was a certain languor in his movements which 



A.HAMite^Mrita 



138 A BUMMERS NIOHT. 

seemed like afiFectation, and his face was of a pecu- 
liar marble paleness ; these were the only indications 
of his state of health. I could not believe that he 
was dootned. 

Perhaps some of my interest and anxiety was be- 
trayed in my face, for, catching my eyes, he smiled. 
What a boyish smile he had, and what wonderful 
eyes ! They were somewhat sunken in his head, but 
were intensely bright, whether dark-blue or hazel I 
could not tell, and fringed with the long, thick lashes 
seldom given to men. lie was in good spirits, and 
did his share of talking. 1 could only speak in mon- 
osyllables, being engrossed in deep pity for him. 

We were at the table a long time. The pix>fes8or 
had so much to say that he generally forgot the con- 
tents of his plate until oui*s were ready to be taken 
away, and then we were obliged to wait for him. 
There was soon an understanding between Mr. Lo- 
well and myself that the professor amused us. We 
were not guilty of ridiculing him ; he inspired too 
much respect, even if we had not been incapable of 
it ; but we smiled at each other over his peculiarities, 
lie allowed his orange-flower cream to melt on its 
plate while he explained to us younger ones that cream 
reminded him of cows, and that the cow of the Brah- 
min religion was not a real cow, but figurative, and 
intended for the sustenance of the common peoph 



I 



I 



A SUMMER'S NIQHT. 139 

the real religion of the priests and scholars being too 
pn)fouudly ideal to afford any aid to the ignorant, and 
totally lacking in the sweet human elements which 
made tlie Chiistian religion what it was. 

A luminous golden twilight filled the western par- 
lor, to which we adjourned after our ices and cofFee. 
Mr. Lowell took a seat by an open window which 
reached to the floor, I was not far from him. Mar- 
garet excused herself for a little while, as she had a 
call to make about half a mile away, and Michael 
was waiting to take her. It would be moonlight for 
her return, and she would be back in an hour. 

" Figuratively," the professor had my uncle and 
aunt by the button-hole; he was talking to them 
about tlie origin of language ; so there was nothing 
left for Mr. Lowell and myself but to steal glances at 
each other and to keep up a very trifling side conver- 
sation. 

Suddenly the new-co nor ai)pe!ired to me to grow 

faint, and, as if not wishing to disturb others, he 
arose and stepped through the window on to the pi- 
azza. I was the only one who had noticed his deathly 
pallor, and I felt constrained to follow him. I found 
him sitting on the steps gasping, one hand pressed to 
his heart. I ran back into the hall and on into the 
dining-rcx>m for a glass of ice-water, which I brought 
him, without stopping to alarm any one. lie was al- 



ilACfc 



/ 



140 A SUMMER'S NIQHT. 

ready better, and, after sipping tlic water, was pres- 
ently able to speak. 

" I fear I have frightened you." 

" Are yoH better now ? Shall I call the doctor? ^ 

''There is no need, the spasm is over for this time. 
Is it asking too much. Miss Guthrie, to request you 
to sit with me a few minutes until I am able to re- 
turn to tlie parlor?" 

I seated myself on the steps, a feeling of pity for the 
sufferer turning me cold to my fingers' ends. The gold- 
en dusk clung to the earth ; the air was heavy with 
the sweets of the llower-garden and of the vines that 
clung to the pillars of the piazza; the strange sym- 
]>athy which thrilled me trembled in my voice as 1 
asked: 

- Are you often as ill as this, Mi*. Lowell ? " 

" Not often— ov I should not be here. The jour- 
ney was fatiguing, 1 suppose." 

" Ought you not to go to I'est as quickly as possi- 
ble 'i 1 will tell my amit." 

" No, please ; stay here. I should not sleep if 1 
went to bed now, unless 1 took a sedative, which 1 
prefer not doing. Perhaps you will take cold in that 
thin dress. Miss Guthrie."' 

** There is no danger." 

He leaned back against a pillar and was silent for 
some moments, too exhausted to talk, but not to think. 



A SUMMERS NIOBT. 141 

HIb eyes rested on my face, but I did not Ehrink, 
although I felt some embarrassment 

" What a sweet sammer night it is I " h* murmared, 
as his strength came back to liim. " I believe I will 
try and keep awake all night. This is, donbtless, my 
last sammer, and I begrndge every hoar that I waste 
in the nnconscioiisness of sleep. Every minute is like 
a drop of water from the nearly empty cnp of a ship- 
wrecked sailor, so sweet, so insufficient." 

The tears rose in my eyes ; I knew not what to say. 

" He knows the worst," I thought, wondering at 
the boyish gayety of his demeanor at the dinner-table. 

" I don't believe my uncle thinks your case as bad 
as that," I managed to say, rather huskily, 

"Oh yes, ho does. But n<ine of thorn will tell me 
so, plainly. They dislike to pronounce my sentence. 
I know that it is written. I hope 1 have manliness 
enough to meet it." 

" You seem to me strangely brave." 

" I am calm, not brave. I try tosiibmit with dig- 
nity to the inevitable. If there were one chance for 
me I would fight like a tiger for my life. As it is, I 
amuse myself with the question, ' What follows ? ' I 
have had several dtScreut answers in my mind, but 
liave settled down at last upon — nothing." 

'' What do you mean, Mr, Lowell ? " 

"I mean, nothing." 



ita-i 



14:2 A SUMMER'S NIGHT. 

When he Jiad explained himself thus, he arose. 

" Professor Globe will miss you, Miss Gnthria I 
think I shall be obliged to lie down a few minutes, 
but not for the night Will you ask your uncle to 
come to my room before he retires, and will you say 
^ good-night ' for me to the others 1 " 

He went, with that graceful, languid way of his, 
into the hall ; 1, looking over my shoulder, saw that 
he paused more than once on the stairs ; a sharp pang 
of sympathy struck through my own heart. 1 heard 
the professor's voice flowing on and on, but had no 
desire to know what he was talking about. Plato and 
Aristotle were dead ages ago, but Aligre Lowell was 
living, and of more present concern to me. That he 
was so soon to join the noble army of the dead in- 
vested him with an unspeakable interest 

" He, too," I murmured, " is staring into blank dark- 
ness. Oh, how pitiful, how terrible I" 

I recalled my talk with Margaret that morning. 
Thinking of her and Vervelde and myself, and of the in- 
valid up-stairs, every thing appeared at cross-purposes. 

Presently I heard the wheels of the carriage, " low 
on the gravel and loud on the stone," approaching, 
and shortly Margaret was sitting by me in the sub- 
tle, sweet-breathed presence of Night 

When I told her of the attack from which Mr. 
Lowell had suffered, she sighed : 



A SUMMERS NIQHT. 



143 



" I must tell papa, soon, and have him go up to 
Aligre'a room. Marion, the ancients did not depict 
the Fates half vividly enough. Their cold and cruel 
smile drives their victims mad. I wish we had more 
brain or not so much. We know just enough to know 
that we can't know what we want to know. I wish 
I were a fish." 




CHAPTER IX. 



BEOINNINO TO UNDEE8TAND. 

^^ ^ Yes I * I answered 70a last night : 
^ No ! ' this morning, sir, I say. 
Colon seen by candlelight 
Do not look the same by day. 

'^Call me false, or call me free ; 
Vow, whatever light may shine, 
No man on thy face shall see 
Any g^ef for change on mine. 

^^Tet the sin is on as both : 

Time to danoe is not to woo ; 
Wooer light makes fickle troth, 
Scorn of me recoils on you. 

— Mrs. Browning. 

[THIN a week Drowsvdell belied its name. 
Every room was occiipie<l. Thei-e were 
twenty-two guests, and Turner was in his 
element. Gay breakfasts and chatty luncheons, dinners 
that were banquets ; brilliant evenings, picturesque 
drives, and picnics which Turner superintended ; sail- 




BEQINNINQ TO UNDERSTAND. 145 

ing parties begun by moonliglit and ending in star- 
liirlit — for the glorious moon of tlie harvest was as 
yet but a silver sickle in the blue field of heaven ; 
visits to the neighboring villas ; croquet parties. 

IleiT Ilalm came up, for a generous consideration, 
to preside over the piano. We had fine singers and 
good readers, and one inimitable amateur actor of 
" genteel comedy," who got up amusing impi-omptu 
plays and tableaux, into whoso service he pressed 
even the learned and childlike professor, who had 
once to perform the part of the Fat Boy in Pick- 
wick, aud between acts lectured to ix)or little me on 
the Greek choruses. 

There appeared to be but one idea left to Drowsy- 
dell, and that was pleasure. My uncle locked the 
door of the doctor's room, but kept the key conve- 
niently in his pocket ; so that I more than once beheld 
him, with some of his brother scientists in tow, 
make slyly for the forbidden apartment. 

I woi-e all my new dresses and did as well as I 
could in the duty assigned by Aunt Maxwell of en- 
tertaining the young people of the company. But it 
was a week to me of deep, painful, gnawing thought. 
You may think it strange that in the midst of such 
gayety I was troubled with the problem of life, 
which in quieter hours I would have leisure to study. 

But, as I have confessed, a deep interest had been 
7 



146 BEGINNING TO UNDES8TAND. 

awakened which refused to Bluniber. To add to my 
already restless state, came Aligre LowelL A yonng 
and most attractive man, slowly dying, with every 
faculty on keenest edge and fully aware of his 
own predicament From the first he liked to talk 
alone with me. There was the fullest sympathy Ikj- 
tween us. In the pity I felt for liim it was no self- 
denial for me to remain away from those picnics or 
boating parties in which his condition, demanding 
quiet, would not allow him to participate. In this 
way it occurred that I spent three mornings and even- 
ings alone with him— that is, in some comer of the 
parlors or piazza or out under the trees we sat togetlier, 
and always our conversations led in one direction. 
They were always discussions of Death. 

One word will express the attitude of his mind — 
Despair. 

As the soldier, finding himself in a hopeless pass, 
surrounded on every side, and seeing death inevita- 
ble, stands up haughtily and smiles in the face of 
the foe, so Aligre Lowell smiled in the face of the 
Destroyer. People wondered at his light spirits and 
the zeal with which he entered into those pleasures 
which were allowed him. I knew that this was his 
gold-bedecked uniform — that under it was a breast 
full of despair. Anything which I could do to please 
him did not seem too much. 



BBGnfNING TO UNDERSTAND, 147 

So looking eagerly into mine with those wonderful 
8teel*blae eyes that sometimes flashed light like a 
weapon, he would combat my propositions, one after 
the other, and close by saying, ah, how wearily : " I 
see plainly but one thing — death an<i oblivion for 
all who have been and will be." 

" I am as certain of our immortality as I am tliat I 
am speaking to yon," I once responded, warmly. 

" Prove it, Miss Guthrie, and you have a convert." 

" Alas, that I were not an ignorant girl I 1 am like 
the blind man of whom we read, and of whom Beecher 
Bays : * The Pharisees were routed by the blind man, 
whose eyes Jesus opened, with this declaration : " One 
thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now 1 see." 
Tliat is heaven's logic, and the humblest Christian is 
omnipotent as he uses it.' " 

" I wish I were su6cei)tible to tlie power of such 
logic. For my part, the belief in the immortality of 
the soul strikes me as the very quintessence of self- 
ishness." 

" Oh ! " 

" I mean, of egoism. I warrant you, no animal 
but tlie human thinks himself entitled to such inex- 
tinguishable glory." 

" No animal I Oh, Mr. Lowell, to think of you as 
a materialist 1 " 

" What is a materialist. Miss Gutlirie ? Do you 



148 BBQIIfNING TO UNDERSTAND. 

rememoer what Uerbert Spencer's Materialist says to 
tlie Spiritualist ? — * Your couception, O Spiritnalist, 
is far too gross for me. I know not what may be the 
extent to which yon have refined this creed wliich 
you inherit from aboriginal men. Dl^mbodied spirit 
was conceived by your remote ancestors — ^as it is still 
conceived by various existing savages — as material 
enough to take part in battle, and even to be killed 
over again. Becoming less concrete and definite as 
knowledge increased, the idea of a ghost continued, 
until quite modem days, to be that of a being which 
could cause alarming noises and utter words. Even 
your quite recent ancestors, transparent as they sup- 
posed the substance of a ghost to be, nevertheless 
supposed it visible. Possibly you have still farther 
purified their belief. But, whether you confess it or 
not, you cannot think of disembodied spirit withont 
thinking of it as occupying a separate place in space 
— as having position and limit, and such materiability 
as is implied by limits. This idea, not commended 
to me by its genealogy, quite unsatisfactory in its 
nature, and wholly unsupported by evidence, I cannot 
accept.' Now, will my little friend answer Herbert 
Spencer?" 

" You do not expect a young girl, untrained in 
reasoning, to answer you. I have not yet read Spen- 
cer, but I peeped into a volume of his the other day, 



BEQINmNQ TO UNDERSTAND. 149 

and on the very first page I came to a concession to 
the e£Fect that the universal belief, even among the 
lowest savages, in a future life and in a God, might 
be admitted as an argament in favor of a Supreme 
Being and a future existence. lie there admitted 
this belief of savages to have some weight, j-et here 
ho sneei*s at the genealogy of our ideas, as if, arising 
among our remote ancestoi'S of tlie prehistoric age, 
they were entitled to no respect." 

" I put a bar on all such conversation," said a voice 
behind us, and turning we saw Margaret, who had 
come across the lawn to the place where we were 
sitting in the shade of a great oak-tree. 

" Guess who is in the house, Marion — having ar- 
rived by the morning train." 

She said it playfully, but I detected that same 
thrill in her voice which I noticed on that eventful 
evening of my arrival at my uncle's. The color, 
which I could not suppress, flew to my face. I 
glanced at Mr. Lowell, and saw that he was watching 
nie with a look of some surprise and curiosity ; so, to 
put a bi-ave face on it, I asked with an assumption of 
carelessness : 

" Is it Miss Millard, or Mr. Vervelde? " 

" Vervelde I " echoed Lowell, before she could an- 
swer ; " is he coming here ? " 

" Yes, for a week or two. He will be a gain to 



f 



L 



150 BEQINNING TO UNDERSTAND. 

oar company. As he knows a little of everything, 
he will be useful to our pleasure-parties.'' 

Margaret spoke lightly, yet to my sensitive ear 
there was a tone of bitterness. 

^^ And I shall lose the little friend who has been so 
good to me — giving up the most fascinating of pur- 
suits, that of channing everybody, to cheer one poor 
invalid," said Mr. Lowell gravely. 

" No, indeed 1 I am going to stay with you now 
until luncheon. Where there are plenty of ladies 
Mr. Vervelde does not need one so insignificant as 1." 

" Thank you. I share your opinion, except as to 
the insignificance. Miss Maxwell, don't take her 
away." 

" Very well. Are you feeling better, Mr. Lowell I " 

" Oh, much better. I have had a peaceful morn- 
ing. No one, not even Vervelde, should begrudge 
me the few left to me." 

" But, Aligre, 1 heard papa say something hopeful 
about you a little while ago.'' 

The Lowells and Maxwells were friends of long 
standing, and generally addressed each other by their 
given names. 

" Is that so ? " eagerly. 

" He will tell you, himself," and smiling back at us, 
she glided away. 

It was kind of her to warn me, so that I should 



BBOnriflNQ TO UNDERSTAIfD, 151 

not meet Mr. Yervelde unexpectedly, and perhaps 
betray our relations to othere. I felt grateful to her, 
for I was much agitated, and certainly did not suc- 
ceed in hiding my emotion from my companion. 

I talked rapidly on trifling subjects, but received 
no answer. When my own agitation had calmed 
do\vTi I noticed that a great change had come over 
Mr. Lowell's face, — ^he was paler than I had ever 
seen him, and there was something in his eyes that 
disturbed me — a look of weariness and pain. 

" You are tired ; shall we go in 1 " 

" Not unless you wish it. I am tired, but I prefer 
being out here in the open air. If you are impatient 
to welcome Yervelde, why don't you leave me? " — 
fretfully, — the first time that I had heard anything 
the least like an invalid's petulance from him. 

" 1 could stay here forever as far as he is concerned." 
Anxious to hide my feelings I said too much, as people 
will. 

He made no reply for some time, then remarked in 
a low voice : 

" I have thought that your cousin and Vervelde were 
interested in each other." 

" Tliey admire each other, I dare say." 

" No more ? " 

" I think not." 

After that he was silent again. It was easy for me 



f' 



152 BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND. 

to keep silence, for I had mnch to think of. I felt a 
curious reluctance to meet the man with wliom I was 
in love and to whom I stood partly plighted. 1 did 
not at all understand myself or him. Lost in reverie, 
Mr. Lowell called me back by saying, after half an 
hour: "There's Nora coming to tell us luncheon is 
ready ; I suppose we must go in." 

" Yes ; I'm deliciously hungry." 

" I envy you. Hunger is a sauce with which even 
Thel)ot seldom di^csses my food. But thei'c ! 1 have 
disgraced myself in your eyes by complaining," and 
he put on a gay look. 

The tears came in my eyes, and he saw them. 

" You ai-e an angel of pity," he baid very softly. 

" But you discredit angels." 

"Not in the form of ministering human ones," and 
we walked across tlie lawn and into the house together. 

A dozen people wei-e in the hall on their way to the 
dining-room. Mr. Vcrveldc was among them, with one 
of the belles of the neighborhood oh his arm. The 
two waited for us to shake hands, and I dared steal but 
one look at him, and caught an expression of half -con- 
cealed annoyance ; but he greeted Mr. Lowell very 
pleasantly. 

At table Mr. Vervelde was a long way removed 
from us. Margaret was near, and I noticed a con- 
strahit in her mannei-s quite new to her. Vervelde, as 



/ 



BEGINNING TO UNVER8TAND. 153 

usual wherever he was, led in conversation, wliich was 
of the light and bubbling kind, like the iced cham- 
pagne in our glasses. For once even Professor Globe 
became a listener, shaking with laughter over some of 
Vervelde's beaded wit, and giving no indication of 
the vast amount of erudition stored in the warehouse 
of his brain beyond once inquiring, in parenthesis, 
of the lady by his side if she had ever read the two- 
thousand-years-old poem of " Sakoontala." 

" Goethe was a great admirer of that poem," re- 
marked he, " and I can easily see how he borrowed 
from it the magnificent opening of his * Faust.' " 

His companion, a sweet little lady, who was a judge 
of no art except tlie art of dressing, said " ah I " to 
this, and the professor returned to his chicken-salad. 

I have noticed that my uncle's wisest friends — those 
of whom I at first stood in completest awe — were the 
simplest and most natural of people, like children in 
their enjoyments. Those now present at luncheon 
entci*cd into Vervelde's mood until I almost believed 
there was notliing serious under the sun. I could not 
but feel proud of the man who had chosen me to 
share in his glory. Vervelde certainly was popular, 
even with men of sense. Mr. Lowell sat beside me, 
eating little and speaking less. Usually an object of 
great interest on account of his health, and of admira- 
tion for his amiable qualities, he seemed to feel him- 



154 BEQINUfma TO UNBEBSTAm). 

self extinguished in the blaze of Verveldc's noon-day. 
I resented this for hira. Vain of my lover, 1 was yet 
unwilling that my friend should suffer eclipse. ' I de- 
voted myself to him in a manner almost too marked. 
Once, happening to meet Margaret's eyes, she slightly 
lifted her brows to put me on my guard. 

After luncheon there was a general gathering in the 
parlors, it being too wann for any sort of out-door 
amusement. Vervelde continued beside the lady he 
had waited upon. In a short time the most of the ladies 
had dropped off to their rooms ; some of the gentle- 
men went to the billiard-room in spite of the heat, 
and others prepared to ward off sleep with novels and 
newspapers ; Mr. Lowell had gone up-stairs, and I 
found myself alone in one of the parlors with Mr. 
Vervelde. Not until then did he pay me any more 
attention than he gave the strangers about him. He 
came up, took my hands, and looked at me as if I were 
one of those perambulating advertisements, and had 
something written on my forehead. 

" How has my Marion passed the weeks at Drowsy- 
dell ? " 

" I wonder if I am your Marion," I could not help 
saying. 

" I understand it so. And remember — all mine ! 
No flirtation allowed. But you are incapable of that." 

" I am. Do not concern yourself about it, Mr. 



BEGINNING TO UNDEBSTAND. 166 

Vervelde. I suppose it is not my privilege to exact 
as much in return ! " 

He laughed^ and drew my hand in his arm, just as 
he had in the saloon on that other occasion, and we 
paced up and down the room and out into the wide, 
breezy hall. 

"My record is not as immaculate as yours; but 
it shall be henceforth," he said, quite seriously, and 
then began to talk on the topics of the hour. No one, 
observing us, had any reason to suppose us lovers. I 
felt then, and thereafter, as if I were a boat whose 
owner had chained it safely to its moorings, and 
then gone off and left it, to attend to his affairs, 
certain that he should find it when he chose to come 
for it 

About three o'clock a terrific thunder-storm burst 

over Drowsydell. Vervelde wanted me to go out on 
the piazza and look at Dunderberg playing with thun- 
derbolts, but I was cowardly and clung to him and 
would not go. The first fury of the storm was over 
in half an hour, and we then went out to see what 
was left of the grand performance. The breath of 
the gods still clung about the mountain-peaks, but 
they were riding away to the east on the wings of tlie 
cloud and flinging out behind them a long streamer, 
seven-barred. The drenched world laughed as it 
threw the shower from its face. A few drops, 



156 BEOINNINQ TO UNDERSTAND. 

saturated with attar, fell on my face innn the sprays 
of roses that swung out from the pillars of the 
piazza. 

If Lowell had been by my side he would have said 
something in tune with the hour. What Vervelde 
said was this : 

" It will be cool enough for that dance this evening. 
I engage you for the first and last" 

Our guests came flying out, exclaiming and admir- 
ing, congratulating one another on the change of 
temperature. 

" Who would like a drive? " asked my aunt 

All the young people answered ; and soon every 
carriasre that could be made available was f reisjhted, 
and sent ofiF. Vervelde offered to drive the great 
barouche, as Michael could not be everywhere, and 
took the liberty of selecting his company. I was to 
be one of four young ladies. Mr. Lowell sat on a 
settee, looking on. 

"I shall not go unless the invalid does," I said. 

For once Mr. Vervelde frowned. 
* " If Mr. Lowell cares to go there is a seat beside 
me," he forced himself to say, with tliat extreme 
politeness characteristic of a disagreeable duty owed 
to good mannei-s. 

'^ I prefer my seat on the piazza, thank you, Mr. 
Vervelde." 



\ 



BBQIKifINQ TO UNDERSTAND. 157 

" Doctor Maxwell gave yon in my charge," I be- 
gan, coming back from tlie carriage. 

^' Doctor Maxwell ia within call. Miss Gnthrie, and 
mde as it seems to say so, I mast add that I choose 
solitude this afternoon." 

The steel-blue eyes were flasliing with a fire I had 
not seen thei*e before ; I bowed, and went back to the 
barouche. 

"It is the privilege of an invalid to be crabbed," 
remarked Vervelde, as we drove away. 

"Mr. Lowell is never crabbed," I rejoined. 

" Nor his defender ! " and then I blushed, for I had 
spoken sharply. 

The drive was delightful. My four companions 
diatted incessantly; I was silent, thinking of the 
white face on the piazza. 

Quails were calling " Bob "White " from the fields 
of tall i-ye which gave out a musky odor as they 
bowed and rose, bowed and rose with the graceful 
genuflexions which always seamed to me as if they 
were saying words of praise, and bending before tlie 
heavens, and their Ci*eator, shrined therein. 
. A good part of our way was by the river-side. A 
boat, loaded with people, with flags flying and music 
playing, passed down, in full sight. The broad stream 
wore the blue sky for its colors. The landscape was 
freshly di-essed and wore its jewels. The girls were 



.mm^^ua^^ 



mM-l. 



I 



158 BEQumnra to undebstakd. 

very gay ; not only because they had an unconscions 
sense of the pleasant things about them, but also be- 
cause they were flattered to be selected by Mr. Ver- 
velde for the drive. I wished that I had remained 
with Aligre Lowell. To think of him, sitting alone, 
watching the rosy flushing of this summer afternoon 
— to think of the language it must have for him, who 
was set apart from the sweetest hopes of other men 
by a hard decree — my lips quivered, tears blurred 
everything. 

When we returned, he was still sitting on the 
piazza. lie arose and came to the steps, with that 
dazzling smile which sometimes shone like the sun, 
opened the caiTiage door for us, and gave us his hand 
to assist us to alight. His beauty was boyish at that 
moment. No one could guess that his thoughts lay 
so closely to the cold image of Death. Indeed, it 
was the wonder of Drowsydell that Mr. Lowell, 
with his health, could be so cheerful. He did not 
talk to others as he did to me when we two were 
alone. 

The general impression was that he was almost too 
thoughtless, taking his serious condition too lightly. 
His gayety was extremely captivating, however ; one 
of the young ladies, as she walked into the hall by my 
side, whispered : 

" Isn't it ten thousand pities? I should be inclined 



BEQINmNG TO UNDERaTAND. 159 

to fall in love with Aligre Lowell if there was any * 
hope for him." 

" Perhaps, then, I do well to tell you that Doctor 
Harwell says there are hopes — ^very faint hopes — of 
his living some years." 

I hung my hat np and returned to the piazza, dis- 
inclined to say anything more to the young lady. One 
of the men had taken the hoi*ses around to the stables, 
and Mr. Vervelde was drawing off his gloves and chat- 
ting with Mr. Lowell. Just then Mai'garet came 
around a corner of the piazza, walking, and talking 
in an animated manner, with a gentleman who must 
have come in our absence, or who, perhaps, was a 
neighbor. 

The words died on Vervelde's lips. He evidently 
forgot to finish his sentence, in the sharp interest 
aroused by the sight. 

The gentleman was nearly forty years of age, of 
fine appearance, with clear-cut intellectual features 
and an expression of refined intelligence that charmed 
me from the first. Vervelde continued to stare at 
them until they came up, when he shook hands with 
the gentleman in a frigid manner and immediately 
went into the house. 

Margaret introduced him as Doctor Berthelot, a 
neighbor of ours, and the two resumed their walk. 

"There!" exclaimed Mr. Lowell in a low, glad 



\ 



\ 



160 BBQINNINQ TO UNDBBSTAND. 

voice, " did I not tell you that Vervelde was interested 
in yonr cousin? Did you notice his jealousy when 
he saw his rival ? " 

" IDs rival ? " I murmured, hardly knowing what 
I said. 

"Yes. Doctor Berthelot is a foeman worthy of 
his steel. Miss Maxwell is just tlie woman to de- 
light a man like him. lie is a widower, with two 
little girls ; but he is a young man yet in his feelings, 
and he admires Margaret. Doctor Maxwell thinks a 
great deal of Doctor Berthelot; but I fear me her 
heart is already engaged in another direction." 

" I have good reason to suppose that you are mis- 
taken in most of your conjectures, Mr. Lowell." 

But he thought not His spirits rose, for some 
mysterious reasoTi. lie was full of fun and mischief, 
in a regular frolic, before we went in to dinner. If I 
liad been wiser I should have apprehended the secret 
of his jojousness. But I did not. That which hap- 
pened afterwards, that very evening, was- wholly un- 
anticipated by me. 

We had a gala dinner that day. Just as we were 
sitting down to it, Harry came home, and with him 
his betrothed and her mother, Mrs. Arnold, of Bos- 
ton. They all came in, in their travelling-dresses, at 
our pressing solicitation, and dined with us. Mad- 
ame Arnold looked stately, even in her travelling- 



BE GINNING TO UNDERSTAND, 



161 



dress, while Nellie bad the whole company bewitched 
with her dark, sparkling beauty and vivacious, but 
perfectly modest and sweet, mannere. The Arnolds 
were more strictly fashionable than the Maxwells, 
but in family, in fortune, or in influence we — leaving 
rae out — were more than their peers. 

As soon as I could get near llarry, after dinner, I 
told him his Nellie was perfectly delicious, to which 
he replied tliat he knew it, and he had told her how 
nice / was ; and he looked so intensely proud and 
satisfied that I had to laugh behind my fan. 








CHAPTER X. 

THE SUMMONS AT DAWN. 

** O sweet,* he said, ' this thing is even love, 
Whereof I told thee ; that all wise men fear, 
But yet escape not ; naj, to gods above, 
Unless the old tales lie, it draweth near.** 

— W&iam Morrit, 

m 

^' But, ere their fair young months might kiss. 
While hand stole unto hand, and breath 
Met breath, the image of cold Death, 
With his estranging agonies. 
Smote on her heart that once was wise.** 



tjfT was resolved, before we left the table, to 
i^^ have an impromptu celebration of the oc- 
casion, and messages were dispatched to a 
dozen or two of friends in the vicinity, while Turner 
promised us a suitable collj^tion at eleven o'clock. 
Tlie moon would not set until a little after midnight, 
the shower had brought down the temperature to a 
degree that permitted dancing, and Ilerr Halm prom- 



THB SUMMONS AT DA WN. 163 

ised to have in readiness a pasan of congratulation, 
of his own composition, with which to welcome the 
engaged couple. The charming fiancee retired to 
her room to make a toilet suitable to the importance 
of tlie occasion ; I ran np and slipped on a white 
dress and the pink corals which Margaret had lent 
or given me; Margaret put on a pale amber satin 
just the tint of a tea-rose, in which she looked lovely. 
The other ladies, not in evening di*ess, did as we did 
— went to their rooms and came out blooming. 

I remember that the visitors said afterwards that 
the evening was a delightful one ; I remember that 
Ilerr Halm's " Betrothal Song " was exquisite, that 
Nellie and her duchess of a mother were approved ; 
that Doctor Berthelot remained and would have been 
devoted to Margaret, had Vervelde allowed him the 
opportunity. 

After the first dance Mr. Vervelde did not ask me 
for another ; he kept by my cousin's side, assuming a 
devoted air which puzzled me, and which, had I truly 
loved him, would have made me indignant. 

Mr. Lowell was unusually bright until nearly sup- 
per-time. He did not venture to dance, but he prom- 
enaded with one and another and talked with those 
who were not on the floor. 

" I wish I could waltz once with you ! " he said to 
me, as we sat by ourselves in a window. " Allow me 



L 



161 TRB SUMMONS AT DA WN. 

to say that yon ought never to wear anjtliing but 
white. Yon are a lily to-night — so cool and fair and 
s " 

" No compliments," I interrupted him, for he spoke 
with such an ardent look that it half disconceited me. 

Some one came for me to dance and I left him sit- 
ting in the window. When the quadrille was fin- 
ished, I looked for him thei*e ; he was gone, and did 
not return. I became uneasy after a time, and made 
some inquiiy. 

^ Mr. Lowell ? I saw him go out through the win- 
dow. I believe he complained of the close air, or 
was faint." 

I had a great dread of those f ainting-spells. I har- 
ried out to look for him. There were a number of 
promenaders outside. lie was not among them ; but 
presently I found him in my aunt's sitting-room, 
which was otherwise deserted, leaning back in an 
easy-chair, looking like death, as he always did after 
one of those spasms. I caught his damp, cold hand 
and bent over him. " What can I do for you ? " 

" Nothing," he whispei-ed, " but what you are doing 
now." 

" I will go for Uncle Maxwell." 

" No," and his hand feebly drew me back. " Sit 
down by me and hold my hand. The touch of your 
fingei-8 will keep me here." 



THB SUMMONS AT DA WN. 165 

I drew a chair by his and held his hand, as I would 
have done tliat of any dying friend. The door was 
open on the piazza and into the hall ; there was no 
lamp in the room, but the light came in from the hall 
and the moon shone in almost horizontally, for it was 
near its setting. I did not think Mr. Lowell would 
die then, for the worst was over ; but I did feel almost 
as if with a spirit of one already dead, so near to the 
brink did he seem to stand. 

Ten or fifteen minutes passed in silence and quiet. 
His eyes were fixed on mine with a deep look, which 
I could not read ; it was as if they clung to me for 
life. I could not leave him at such a time. 

I could see, after awhile, that he drew a longer 
breath and that his strength was slowly returning. 
Great tears broke from under In's eyelids and rolled 
down his face. Drop after drop they glistened in 
the moonlight as they fell. My own eyes filled at 
such a sight. 

" Oh," lie moaned, at length, " where is my cour- 
age gone, that I allow you to see me weeping ? 1 am 
not wanting in stoicism, but I have so much more to 
lose than I had when I came here. It was good of 
you, Marion, to leave the music and dancing to come 
here and sit in the dark of the grave with me." 

" Don't, don't speak of the grave/' I said, my lips 
quivering. 



166 THE SUMMONS AT DA WIT. 

" Why not ! Am I to stumble iuto it all unwitting ! 
It lies just before me. Oh, Marion, how beautiful 
earth was to-day ; the rainbow, the light on the wet 
leaves, the red ix)ses, the blue sky — how beautiful 
you were, \vith your sweet looks and your girlisli 
smile. Marion, Marion, Marion ! the fight was ended 
and I was victor, until I came here. I had given up 
all the prospects so bright before others of my age. 
I scorned to complain of what I could not help. To 
lie in my coffin and moulder, deaf, dumb, and blind 
to the glory of the universe, I schooled myself to 
contemplate it with a smile, as the poor result of my 
having been." 

" Oh, not deaf or blind, but with life unnumbered 
times more comprehensive. Do believe this, I pray 
you, Aligre Lowell." 

" Looking on death as the end of all, it was hard to 
lay down my weapons and surrender. But I did it 
I had not seen you then, my lily, my Marion 1 Now 
that I have met you, and felt that, had not my fate 
been so cruel, I might have had yon for my very own, 
the battle has all to be fought over. Diel must I 
die and crumble to dust, while you live and smile, 
and turn to other arms? I must never know the tri- 
umph of love, or breatlie the name of wife to my 
dearest. Bitter, bitter tears ! Marion, sweet one, tell 
me that you pity me, and that, if I had not this fate 



THE SUMMONS AT DA WIT. 167 

apon me, you would have been my wife some 
time." 

I sat like a stone, but my brain and my heart 
Beemed strained to burating. Fickle, vain, fond of 
men — say what you will harsh of me. I answer that 
my regard for Reginald Vervclde had never been 
anything but a sort of fascination. A girl is very 
apt to fancy she responds to the love of the fii*st man 
who flatters her by preferring her. Her quick sym- 
pathy and her natural romance pei-suade her that she 
likes him. In this way I had allowed Vervelde to 
become my suitor. 

Tiie first word of Aligre Lowell, as he spoke to me 
that night, melted the gilded chain that bound mo to 
the other, as by tlie touch of lightning. 

Why, for Aligre Lowell I would have, without a 
tremor, gone down into the grave beside him. To 
have satisfied him, I would have become his wife, 
knowing that I should be a widow in an hour. To 
be with him the little while he remained in this world, 
I would have given up the prospect of a life of love 
and wifehcKxl, and become a mourner for all niv davs. 

" You do love me and pity me, sweet one ? " he wfis 
pleading. 

To put my arms about his neck and tell him " Yes," 
was my impulse. But I had no right to do this. I 
stood partly bound to another. I did not dare to ex- 



168 THE SUMMONS AT DA WST. 

plain that Mr. Vervelde was my lover, for Aligre's 
face was like marble, and 1 should have expected to sec 
him die before my eyes. Neither did I dare to acknowl- 
edge how I responded to all his words and wishes. 

" I have frightened you," he murmured, tenderly. 
" But it is not haixl to learn to love and you will an- 
swer me soon." 

" I can never answer you, Mr. Lowell. Ton ought 
not — I cannot " 

''I undei-stand. A man in my condition has no 
business— I admit that — to seek to intei-est a young 
girl in liim. I liave stniggled to the utmost limit of 
my strength to keep my seci*et. You were so sweet — 
it was so g(X)d of you to come liere and stay with me — 
it was so hard not to speak. Ah, Marion, forgive 
me 1 1 know that my love can be nothing but cruelty 
to you. I expect nothing — nothing! I did not de- 
sire to find you. Alas 1 I wish you had not been bo 
kind to me, — nor come here to-night and let yom'soft 
eyes shine into my death-stricken ones." 

I shut my teeth hard together to keep back the 
words that came. 

** You will forgive my selfishness I" he asked, pa- 
tiently. 

It was moi'e than I could endure to hear him ask 
me that. 

" I do love you, I do love yon," I sobbed ; " I would 



THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 169 

rather die with you than live without you ! But I 
ought not to say so. It is wicked, disbonorable for 
me to admit it, for I am the same as promised to Mr. 
Vervelde.'' 

'' You ! " 

" Yes, oh, yes ! Unless he releases me of his own 
accord, without petition from me, I shall never break 
my implied promise. So you see how impossible it 

18 that you — that I Mr. Lowell, never speak to 

me of love again, but be my friend. I want to make a 
good Christian of you," I added, with a hysterical 
laugh, too miserable and too unnerved to half know 
what I was saying. 

" If any one could do that, you could. Yervelde 
of all men ! But he does not love you. He loves 
your cousin." 

" I wish I could think so." 

" How good of you to tell me that you love me 
Marion." 

" I ought not to have said it." 

" But you have said it, and I believe it. My hold 
on life tightens. How can I die now f " 

He held my hands as if they were the life he clung 
to. The weird moonlight made his white face still 
whiter ; but it glowed with happiness. He leaned 
back in the ann-chair exhausted, a spirit fluttering on 
the verge of life, but radiant with love and hope. 




170 THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 

The light pulsations of Strauss' exquisite music fell 
on our ears ; there were soft, murmuring voices on 
the piazza, gay laughter in the distance, a sleepy bii-d 
trilling a bmken song in the sliadow somewhere near. 
It seemed to me that we two were far apart from the 
bright company, in a land of night and sorrow, full 
of tombs ; but the bearers of a strange and secret joy 
which none could take fi-om us. To walk in darkness 
with Aligre was ten thousand times better than to 
be led through the sunshine by Keginald Vervelde. 
The solemn rapture of the time was brief ; some one 
entered the room — my uncle in search of his patieut 

" I am glad to find you safe, and in good hands, 
Aligre, my dear boy. Have you been ill again ? " 

" Yes, very ill ; but I am well again.'' 

The doctor felt his pulse, anxiously studying his 
countenance : " You must to bed, my boy. I am 
afraid there is too much company in my house. I 
I wish we had it a little more quietly. Come ! I will 
go to your room with you and see to it that you take 
)'Our medicine. Say good-night to him, Marion." 

" Good-night, Mr. Lowell. A dose of digitalis aud 
sweet sleep to you," I said, lightly, for uncle's eyes 
were keen, and he appeared to me to be reading both 
of us. 

" Good-night, my good angel." 

" She is a quick-handed, attentive little nurse," 1 



THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 171 

heard my uncle Bay, as he supported the invalid out 
into the hall. 

I slipped out on the dusky, honeysuckle-scented 
piazza. There was no one there just then, and I 
stole to one of the lighted windows and looked tiirongh 
the parted curtains into the brilliant parlors. Ver- 
vclde was waltzing with Harry's ^nc^^, and whisper- 
ing compliments to her, after his fashion. Margaret 
was chatting, near the piano, with Doctor Berthelot. 
Other couples wei-e floating fairily to the raptui-ous 
rhythm of the waltz played byllerr Halm, with deli- 
cate precision. I felt that I should be as much out 
of place in tlmt room as would a ghost. To meet 
Vervelde again that night would require more forti- 
tude than I was master of ; so I turned and re-entered 
the dark sitting-room and from thence found my way 
to a back staircase and to my room. Margaret would 
not be here for an hour or two, — I had that time for 
my own, to spend in tliought. But it is not when we 
are deeply agitated that we think clearly. A wave 
of emotion burst over me and swept me to my knees. 
Not yet had 1 broken my promise to my mother never 
to rest at night until I had laid the burdens and pleas- 
ui-es of the day at Christ's feet. I had kept the form, 
if not the spirit, of my word. Some doubtful prayei-s 
I had offered up, as if distrusting the power of Him 
to whom I prayed. Now I had no words. I only 



~ 1 ^ni 



r-_ 



173 THE BUUMOirS AT DA WN. 

reached np my IiandB and my heart durably. I did 
not pray for myself or my own happiness. Aligre 
Lowell could never be mine. My fatal folly in allow- 
ing Mr. Vervelde to bind me to him, would forever 
Btand in the way of our love, even if Aligre lived. 
Aligre would not live. What I wanted, what I 
dumbly prayed for, was that God might reveal him- 
self to the blind one — to poor Aligre, stumbling 
downward to the grave, without a ray of light from 
the Hereafter. Nothing else in the world was worth 
asking for in the same breath. I did not ask to be 
saved from the consequences of my own foolishness 
— I did not even pray for life for him I loved so dearly 
— only that the spark of life eternal which dwells in 
every soul, and which he had laboriously covered with 
the ashes of an unphiloeophical philosophy, might 
burst its crust and flame forth into consciousness again. 
With a strained and aching intensity of earnestness 
I prayed for this. No words ! only a long, silent cry. 
How long I had been on my knees, I could never 
tell. I was recalled to earth by the touch of a soft 
arm over my shoulder, and turning, I saw Margaret 

) on her knees by my side. Her face was pale, her 
head was drooped, with one white cheek on the bed ; 

1 her eves burned with a restless fire I had never seen 

I in them. 

" You are at your prayers, as usual, little saint,'' 



THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 173 

she said, smiling, but her lips quivered with the efiFort. 
" I wish / could pray, Marion, for I am miserable — 
miserable I " 

She uttered those last two words in accents of utter 
despair. In tlie dim light of tlie tumed-down lamp 
she seemed haggard, and the beautiful, proud face 
had a look of reckless rebellion against fate. 

" You miserable ? Oh, Margaret ! " 

" Wliy not ? Have I a charm against the ills of 
my race? Did you ever see a happy person, 
Marion?" 

"Not entirely happy, in this life, but we have an- 
other and a higher " 

" Hush ! you will drive rao wild I Tell a hungry 
child, starving for food, that next year you will grat- 
ify its hunger. Oh, little, mild-tempered cousin, what 
do you know of the stormy depths of a heart and a 
nature like mine ? You never had a feeling strong 
enough to shake the dew from the roses of your 
life." 

The dew from the roses I Had not a hand reached 
out, that very night, and shaken dew and bloom away 
together, leaving the branches barren ? Did not the 
many years of my stay on earth stretch away before 
my aching eyes, dull, dreary and meaningless ? There 
was nothing for me to live for. All I asked was that 
God would not let Aligre Lowell go down to death 



-- - I I IT ■M.Ja-ii^ 



174. THE SUMMONS AT DA W2f. 

without faitli or hope. I could wait an hundred 
years, if need be, for my portion. I should have it 
807ne time, I did not say to my cousin tliat I, too, 
was suflFering. 

" Margaret, I am so sorry, so sorry for you. I wish 
I could do something to serve you." 

" You can — you alone ! Will you ? " and then 

she came to a full pause, and the eyes which had 
blazed on mine sank. The next minute she added, 
in a different voice : " Marion, I am going to confide 
something to you. Doctor Berthelot, to-night, asked 
me to marry him. He is one man in a thousand, — 
noble, refined, large-minded, worth an hundred of the 
puppets of society — a man I thoroughly i-espect and 
admire, personally pleasing to me, and yet for whom 
I have not one atom of love." 

" Then 1 hope you did not accept him," I said, 
hastily. 

" I shall never marry the only man I ever did love," 
she went on, languidly ; " no matter why, Marion. 
The question with me is — whether I shall marry 
Doctor Berthelot, and be an honorable and faitliful 
wife to him, or whether I shall remain as I am to the 
end of my weary days. There is something to be said 
on both sides." 

^ Never pledge yourself to a man you do not love," 
I cried, hastily. 



THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 175 

"Why, Marion, how earnestly you speak. One 

would think " she hesitated, looking sharply at 

me. 

Then was tlie time when I should have told her all 
— that I did not love Mr. Vervelde, and liked him 
less everv hour. It would have saved me much 
trouble ; but a weak sentiment of what I thought 
honor, restrained me. Since I had encouraged Regi- 
nald Vervelde to love me, it was too late for me to 
retract. The greatest duty I had at that moment was 
to hide my suffering and protect him ! No one but 
})0or Aligre should ever know the truth. Pity had 
wrung the confession from mo to him, but others 
should never know our sacred secret. 

" What answer did you give Mr. Berthelot ? " I 
hastened to ask, seeking to divert my cousin's sus- 
picions. 

" A temporizing one. I told him I would take a 
few days to think of it. I was frightened, after- 
wai-ds, to have given him even that much encour- 
agement, for he brightened almost as if I had said 
' yes.' " 

" I wish you covM love him," 1 said, smoothing 
the rich hair that streamed down her pale cheek. 
• I arlmired him ever so much." 

'• I ought to love him," with a weary sigh ; adding, 
witii a forced smile 



/ 



176 THE SUMMONS AT DA WN. 

** * Bat then I tell my daughter, 
Folks doii*t do as they oughter, 
They hadu^t oughter do as they do — 
Why don't they do as they'd oughter ? ' 

" Why don't wc do as we'd ougliter, cousin ? " 

" I wish I could answer that start h'ng conundrum, 
Margaret." 

" The clock strikes two. You have been on your 
knees a long time, Marion. Let us to bed, if we are 
to go at all." 

The crowd of visitors at Drowsydell compelled 
Margaret and I to share one room. This was no trial 
to me. In a few moments we were lying silent in 
the summer dark, each one practising one of those 
little deceptions which seem necessary to the sincer- 
est — we were each pretending to sleep, in order not 
to disturb the other. I do not think mv cousin slum- 
bered ever so lightly that night ; I lay awake staring 
at the large stars in the deep blue vault, for I was 
near the ojxjn window. Not until the '' rose of dawn " 
had blossomed, did I forget myself in sleep. Then 
the clamor of the birds grew indistinct — I slept 
l)erhai)H half an hour. A whisper by the bedside 
awakened me. It was full daylight, but very early, 
not six o'clock. I lay motionless as a stone, but 
I heard every word and recognized my uncle's 
voice : 



THB SUMMONS AT DA WN. 



177 



^'Slip on a dressing-gown and come to Aligre's 
room, Margaret. I have been with him all night. 1 
am afraid he is dyinqP 




\ 




CHAPTER XL 

THE CHAIN TIGHTENS. 

^' My loye, I have no fear that thou should^st die." 

— LowSSL, 

'* No, indeed I for God above. 

Is great to graDt as mighty to take, 
And creates the love to reward the lore, 

I claim yon still, for my own lovers sake ! 
Delayed, it may be, for more lives yet, 

Thiough worlds I shall traveise not a few ; 
Much is to learn and much to forget 
Ere the time be come for taking yon.** 

— Browning. 




OME girls have lived, I hope, to be older 

than I was then, without having to listen to 

such terrible words. 

Margaret slid out of bed, threw some garment 

about her, and was out of the room like a spirit, 

before I could move a finger, or do anything to break 

the dumb spell that held me to my pillow. 



Z. 



THE CHAIN TIGHTENS. 179 

Presently I sat up in bed and stretched my arms 
toward the sky. 

" God, have you heard my prayer ? Aligre Lowell 
is dying. I ask you to open his eyes to the truth, so 
that he may die in hope of a blessed immortality." 

Then something whispered to my soul — it seemed 
to me my mother's voice : " Child, he is spared a 
Uttle longer to your prayers." 

I am no spiritualist, so-called, nor have I ever had 
another such experience. Whatever it was— even 
though only my own imagination exalted by the tor- 
ture I was suffering — it comforted me. I knew that 
I had nothing to do but to wait and see the glory of 
God. I arose, di'essed myself, and sat down by the 
window. 

In about half an hour my cousin returned : 

" You up ? " 

" Yes, Margaret. I heard what your father said." 

" How frightened you must have been 1 But Mr. 
Lowell is better now. Papa thinks he will live, if he 
can only be kept quiet. Aligre is of an excitable 
temperament, as you may have observed, and is con- 
tinually making himself ill. Fortunately, papa, see- 
ing how ill he was last evening, insisted on sleeping 
on the lounge in his room. My advice is, when Aligre 
gets strong enough — which he will in a day or two, 
if spared another attack — that he shall go to some 



180 THB CHAIN TIOUTBNa. 

quieter place \dieie there will be no pc^ssible excite- 
ment. Something^ last evening, must bavo disturbed 
him \^v^ much. Papa hinted that you were to 
blame. Is that so ? " 

" Some one told me that Mr. Lowell had had one 
of his fainting fits, and I went to look for him and 
found him in aunt's sitting-room, just reviving," was 
my evasive answer. 

" It is a wonder he did not die outright. When I 
entered his room I was certain he was dead," she 
continued. 

" I think God saved him as by a miracle, Mar- 
garet." 

She looked over at me with a half amused, half- 
sarcastic smile. 

" What a little Puritan you are, Marion. You re- 
mind me (»f Kingsloy's women, Saint Maura, and so 
forth." 

" Oh, do not say that! " I cried, reproachfully. " I 
read ' Saint Maura ' only a day or two ago, Margaret 
I am only a weak, cowardly girl, sometimes I think I 
am only a weathercock, changing with every breeze 
about me. The sublimity of that martyr's courage 
awes and disheartens me. / do not have to die for 
Christ. Yet sometimes 1 shrink from acknowledging 
to my superiors in intellect the faith I have in Ilim. 
Do not call me a saint, when I am too weak and 



TEE CHAIN TIQHTEN8. 181 

vacillating even for that Do you remember these 
lines — 

'^ Ah, Qod I these shoots of fire 
Through aU my limbs ! Hush, selfish girl I He hears 70a. 
Who ever found the cross a pleasant bed ? 
Tes, I can bear it, love. Pain is no evil 
Unless it conquers us. These little wrists, now — 
You said, one blessed night, they were too slender, 
Too soft and slender for a deacon^s wife. — 
Perhaps a martyr's : — You foigot the strength 
Which Qod can give.^ 

" There have been as many martyrs to Juggernaut 
as to Christ," remarked my cousin, discomposingly : 
— " figuratively, I mean ; for the traditions of Jug- 
gernaut are exploded, I believe, along with so many 
othei-8." / 

'^ It was to God, all the same, cousin Margaret. 
All worship and all sacrifice is to Him, the Unspeak- 
able One, no matter how the medium may distort His 
image. The African has but a dull glimpse through 
his wooden idol, but something in him turns to find 
God, as the needle turns to the pole. You sacrifice to 
Him, daily, dear cousin, whether or not you acknowl- 
edge it. Every act of duty, of purity, of conscience, 
is your tribute to the Spirit of God which you wor- 
ship and cannot deny." 

"A mere matter of education, Marion. One's 



182 THE CHAIN TIQHTEira. 

conscieDce is only a scholar at school/' and Margaret 
took a look at hei'self in the glass. 

" I do not admit that. There is something in us 
that recognizes the eternal principle of truth. It 
would be impossible to teach human beings to rever- 
ence absolute falsehood. You could never be taught, 
for instance, that you saw with your ears ; that twice 
three were seven ; or that a circle was square. These 
are mental facts and laws, well established, and 
something within you answers to their absolute truth. 
I am quite certain you were born with a conscience." 

•' 1 doubt it ; but perhaps you were, little cousin," 
and she proceeded to comb out and put up her dark 
hair, while I watched her, confident that, should our 
two natures be put to a stern trial of principle, mine 
would be the fii*st to break down. 

Margaret was very pale and her movements listless. 
I recalled her cry of misery on her knees at my side, 
a few hours previously, wondering that she could be 
as calm as she was. 

" You must be as entertaining as possible at break- 
fast, Marion ; and please ask Mr. Vervelde to help 
you, too ; papa is worn out and proposes lying down 
for a couple of hours while I take his place by 
Aligre's bedside. I shall not appear at the breakfast- 
table." 

'^ I am afraid Aunt Maxwell will have to do all the 



THE CHAIN TIGHTENS, 183 

entertiiining ; but if I see Mr. Vervelde, I will give 
him your order." 

" Not as coining from me I " quickly. 

"Just as you say. I wish / could escape going 
down." 

Indeed, I shrank from the idea of facing the gay 
friends of the household, after the night I had passed. 
1 envied Margaret the privilege of attending Aligre 
— longed to creep to his side and whisper to him to 
try and live. The solemn joy of his escape from 
death was beating in my heart ; it seemed to me that 
I had an absolute promise that he would not die until 
the future, beyond the " green curtain of the grave," 
was clear to him. I was rapt in tliese emotions, and 
desired the solitude of my chamber, since I could 
not be with Aligre. 

" Duty and conscience bid you do your best as a 
hostess this morning," spoke my cousin, teasingly. 

" I am afraid that is so," I responded, seriously, 
after thinking of it. "The little duties are often 
harder to perform than the high and mighty ones. 
But I will try not to be selfish." 

I was pinning a pale-blue bow at the neck of the 
white morning-gown she had put on as most suitable 
for the sick-room ; she stooped and gave me one of 
her light kisses, prized J:)y me, always, as the soldiers 
of the old regime prized the decoratioivof tha Ta^vow 



184 TEE CHAIN TIQHTBKa, 

of Honor bestowed by the liand of Napoleon. The 
seal of approval from my queenly couBin was some- 
thing not to receive with indifference. 

By the time Margaret was ready to relieve her 
fatlier, the rising-bell sent forth its silver snmmous 
to the sleepers of Drowsydell, and Florette came to 
wait upon us. 

She braided my hair in the one long, heavy braid 
in which I wore it during the warm summer 
moniings, and I then sent her to wait on other ladies 
who needed her more. I dressed myself carefully, 
stood three or four minutes stock-still by my door, 
then, with an effort, opened it and went out. If I 
could have avoided meeting Reginald Vcrvelde that 
day, I would have given all I had to give. But to 
remain, like a coward, in my room, was not what I 
had promised Margaret. I went fii'st to my aunt's 
bedroom door and knocked. She came to the door, 
finger on lip : 

"The Doctor has just lain down. I am coming 
out, so that he shall not be disturbed." 

" Is there anything I can do, dear auntie ? '' 

" Nothing — except to be as bright as possible. I am 
anxious that our guests shall not feel any restraint on 
account of Mr. I^well. Ordinary noise, the bustle of 
the lumse, do not harm him; it is mental agitation 
wliich he has to avoid. No one need be restricted 



THE CHAIN TI0HTBN8, 185 

in his enjoyment on account of what has happened. 
You mast help our friends to understand this, and 
must be as sunshiny as the morning — take Margaret's 
place for awhile," 

It was the hardest thing slie could have asked. I 
went down to her sitting-room with aunt. A thrill 
ran through every nerve as I entered it In that 
chair Aligi*e Lowell had sat the night before, pale as 
a ghost, the moonlight lighting his marble features, 
while he told me how he loved me. I thought, cer- 
tainly. Aunt Maxwell could see that pulse of lire 
which i*an along my veins. 

A great quantity of cut flowers lay on a table. I 
walked up to them, and bowed my face over them, to 
hide it. Turner rapped at the door : 

" Madame, Doctor Maxwell wants me to prepare 
some powders for Mr. Lowell. It should be done 
before long. If mademoiselle," looking at me, " would 
be so good as to arrange the flowers for the table, I 
would have time to make up the powders before 
breakfast." 

" Certainly, Turner ; I will do it, with pleasure." 

It was against the creed of Drowsydell to sit down 
to breakfast without a profusion of flowers, fresh from 
the garden, to light up the table with their sweet 
looks. Turner had the taste of a woman in arrang- 
ing them, I could not do better than he, but I would 



'-•-•■- - -" 



186 TffB CHAIN TIQHTEN& 

try to do as well. I was busy with the dewy, glow- 
ing heaps when Mr. Vervelde tapped at the open 
door, bidding us "good-morning." 

" Sweets to the sweet," he said, with a glance at 
me and my flowers, which lingered longer tlian I 
could endure, almost — then came in and shook hands 
with my aunt and with me. He pressed uiy fingers, 
and sought to look full in my eyes, bat 1 affected 
haste, and went on arranging my bouquets. 

" I hear that Lowell was very ill in the night," he 
remarked to my aunt. 

" Yes, but he is better." 

" Not dangerous, then ? ^ 

"He is always in danger. I hope he will recover 
from this attack." 

" I trust so — for the sake of others as well as him- 
self," and he looked at me till I felt myself, fool that 
I was, blushing. 

" I came to tell you, Mrs. Maxwell," he went on, 
— and there was the finest possible hint of a sneer 
in his smile, — "that the Rev. Grey Greydon is at 
this moment walking up the drive, if he has not 
already reached the steps. I saw him in the dis- 
tance and thought to prepare you for the pleasure in 
store." 

" Indeed, and thank you ! He must have come up 
on a night-boat to Dashkill," and aunt stepped oat 



THE CHAIN TIGHTENS, 187 

on the piazza and walked around to welcome this 
new gnest. 

" ilarion," said Mr. Vervelde, drawing a chair 
close to mine and assuming an earnest, injured air, 
" jou were more indifferent to me than I expected. 
Of course I did not think to win a girl's whole heart 
in a few days — but, you are cold — not timid or re- 
tiring, simply — but cold. You escaped me last even- 
ing on purpose. I did not have even a good-night 
from you. You can imagine it has not made me 
any tlie happier." 

" It is you who were indifferent," I murmured ; 
" you seemed contented enough when I saw you last, 
dancing with Harry's girl. It happened that I was 
the lirst who discovered Mr. Lowell's illness, and — 
and — I did not feel like returning to the parloi*s after 
that." 

"Made you nervous, I dare say," looking very 
sharply at me. 

" Yes, I suppose so." 

" Let me see your eyes, little one." 

" I must finish these before breakfast, — Turner 
wants them." 

" Well, cannot we arrange it to be alone together 
a little while this morning ? I have several things of 
some importance to say." 

" I do not know. I think not. My cousin is witli 



188 THE CHAIN TI0HTBN8, 

Mr. Lowell, and she asked me to devote mvself to 
lier friends." 

" Good ! I am one of her friends. Devote your- 
self to me. Why, you little witcli, do you suppose 1 
am going to endure your coolness long ? AfFairs be- 
tween us are very serious. We have worlds of things 
to talk about. Shall it be a walk m the grove, or a 
ride in the phaeton after breakfast t Answer me, 
for some one is coming." 

It was my aunt, and I appealed to her in a sort of 
desperation — 

" Aunt Maxwell, I tell Mr. Vervelde I can't be 
spared this morning to take a drive with him." 

" Oh, yes, you can," was the good-natured answer. 
" Our friends will take care of themselves a little 
while." 

" You see you are not of so much importance as 
you thought. Miss Guthrie ! " 

" But, aunt, you told mc yourself that 1 " 

" At breakfast, I meant, more particularly, my 
dear. Mr. Vervelde is one of our most honored 
guests, and I shall think you are doing very well if 
you succeed in helping him to pass a pleasant mom- 
mg." 

lie laughed and tlianked her. Turner came for 
the flowers ; the summons to breakfast followed ; I 
was ])laced by Mr. Greydon, and forcttd myself to 



THE CHAIN TIGHTENS, 189 

ith him about things uninteresting to both of 
was thinking of Margaret, and I was in a 
' mind that made the food on my plate taste 
¥dust. 

company was rather quiet, notwithstanding my 
mounced that Mr. Lowell would be as well as 
I all probability, in a day or two. The wing 
th had brushed very close, and all felt its 
. My uncle was very much missed, for he 
e life of the house, not because he was par- 
y gay, but he had always something of interest 
nunicate, was always pleasant and sympathe- 
i knew precisely what to say to each of his 
Mr. Vervelde did his best to be generally 
)le, and succeeded, as he was certain to do. I 
t it was kind of him, as, usually, he was quite 
ent to such success. 
; Maxwell smiled upon him gratefully, 
it true," he asked a savant across the table, 
ed mussels, dressed as only a French cook can 
lem, were passed round, "that the lacustrines 
I the luxurj^ of oystei-s roasted on hot stones ? " 
ite true." 

m one need not waste pity on those people." 
as to that, the lacustrines were verj' comfort- 
riiey, etc., etc.," went on the man of science, 
terestinglv. 



_\ 



tir 



190 THE CHAIN TIOHTBN& 

"We had a bill of fare in Sanscrit at our last 
yearly dinner," spoke up Professor Globe, addressing 
my aunt. *' I will show it to you, by-and-by. No 
one dared partake of a dish unless he could read it 
off from the printed menu.^^ 

" Didn't it give the viands an ancient and a fishy 

flavor? " inquired one. 

" On the contrary," answered the Professor, " it 

imparted a delightful freshness to everything. It 

brought us tliree thousand years nearer to the Garden 

of Eden." 

Ilarrv looked over at me with a smile. 

" The garden of polly wogs," he whispered, across 
the salt. 

" What are you two talking about ? " asked the 
bright-eyed beauty at his side, almost jealous of that 
one little whisper. 

How happy, how care-free she looked ! I was never 
to have a light heart, and a girl's triumph, such as 
she was enjoying. AVliy not ? Was it not my own 
fault ? Was anything or any one to blame, except 
myself ? Evidently not. Little appetite as I had fur 
breakfast, and oppressive as I felt the presence of so 
many to be, I dreaded leaving the table — dreaded be- 
ing alone with one in whose sole society I ought to 
liave been superlatively happy. 

We were strolling on the breezy piazza after break- 



THE CHAIN TIGHTENS. 191 

fast, when Mr. Vervelde drove up, from the stables, 
in the pliaeton, and called out, as if he had just 
thought of it 

" I am going to the post-office, ladies. Anything 
to send ? Miss Guthrie, you look as if you needed the 
air. Will you drive with me ? We will be back in 
half an hour." 

The young ladies who drove with him the day be- 
fore looked disappointed. I heartily wished they were 
in my place ; but I tied on my hat, and he, springing 
out, handed me to a seat, and the little black ponies 
whirled us away. 

When we were out on the road, he calmed down 
their pace to a walk. 

" Groldilocks," he began, in that way of his 
which had made him in-esistible to more than 
one woman, I fear, "you are more like a mimosa 
than any other little maiden I ever saw. How 
you shrink from me ! Am I not your true knight 
and lover ? You will learn boldness, by-and-by, when 
you arc with me. I must ask you, this morning, if 
you are prepared to have me lay before your uncle 
and lawful guardian the. state of affairs between us? 
An open engagement will be best, on many accounts : 
— one is, some other man maybe throwing awa}- his 
lieart on my little girl. Wien our engagement is 
announced it will put a stop to such dangers. Have 



192 THE CHAIN TIGHTENS, 

I your consent to speak to your uncle on our re- 
turn ? " 

" Do you know how poor I am ? " I cried, " only 
seven hundred dollars a year! 1 am only a foolish, 
plain, unworldly girl, Mr. Vervelde. I cannot be- 
lieve that you really love me ! I do not believe it ! 
You are amusing yourself at my expense ! You^ who 
could marry almost any woman, however brilliant!" 

" I do want you for my own sweet, pure-minded, 
guileless little wife. I will be as good to you as I 
know how to be. As for your poverty, we will be 
well mated there ! I have always been too self-re- 
specting to live on a wife's money. You are accus- 
tomed to economize, have no expensive tastes, and we 
will get along nicely together. By the way, did you 
notice that Doctor Berthelot, Marion ? " 

"Yes." 

" What did you think of him? " 

" I thought him a noble gentleman." 

"So he is. I think he is after your cousin. Miss 
Maxwell. lie will be a splendid match for her, and 
I hope she will accept him. No young fop will sat- 
isfy her nature." 

" Do you mean me to repeat your remarks to her?" 

He looked at me, and I confronted his eyes. If 
there was a war between these two, and I was to be 
made its victim — if Vervelde loved Margaret, and 



TEB CHAIN TIQHTENa, 193 

desired to marry me to spite her, I was determined 
to know it There was a dark look in his face ; some- 
thing inexplicable rose and disappeared in his eyes ; 
— he laughed, the next instant, and caught my hand 
with his disengaged one : 

" I never guessed you were so sharp. But I be- 
lieve all women are subtle — even the most innocent" 

" Am I to tell her your kind wishes ? " 

"As you please. Use your own judgment Are 
you jealous ? " 

« N— no." 

" Then will you believe tliat I prefer you even to 
magnificent Margaret! " 

I could not answer that — I could not tell him how 
glad I would have been to fully believe, not suspect 
it 

" You are silent I do prefer you," he went on in 
a soft voice. " I want you to learn to love me more 
than you do. Little Marion, what will you say when 
I tell you tliat I expect to sail for Havre the first of 
October, and tliat I am determined to take you with 
me?" 

" So soon ? Oh, impossible 1 " 

"Xot imjiossible, in these hurrying days. You 

can be ready as well as not, if you will it I made a 

very lucky speculation in Wall Street, before I came 

out hei-e — cleared eight thousand dollars on a de[)osit 
9 



194 



THE CHAIN TIOHTBIfB. 



of eight hundred, and so feel rich, and able to gratify 
my longing to go abroad again. I am more at home 
in Paris or Vienna than I am in New York. You 
shall go with me, and I will show you the places we 
have talked about You shall see the sun set on a 
Venetian lagune, and walk by my side under the trees 
of the grand park in Vienna. We will stay away 
two years, and when we return my lovely little Goldi- 
locks will be a woman of twenty — the most beautiful 
woman in New York, I venture to prophesy." 

Ah I if I had loved him, what a wave of rapture 
would have swept over me at the prospect he placed 
before me, and at his flattery I If I had loved him 
I should not have paled and shrank as 1 did, under 
his glowing eyes. 

^^ In six weeks Marion will be on the ocean with 
me," he said. 




CHAPTER XII. 



ONLY TO BREAK. 



'* Nay, yon wrong her, my friend, she^s not fickle ; her love she 

has simply outgrown : 
One can read the whole matter, translating her heart by the light 

of one^s own. 



She cannot look down on her lover ; her love, like her sonl, aspires : 

He mnst stand by her side, or above her, who would kindle its 

holy fires. 

SvUa a R Dorr. 




HEN Mr. Vervelde really loved me ! 
A chill strnck to my lieart. I mnst liavo 
turned very pale. Unwittingly a strong 
hope had recently grown in my thoughts that he was 
only playing with me, and would some time return to 
Margaret. Now, that idea was dispelled. 

" In six weeks Marion will be on the ocean with 
me 1 " He playfully turned my averted face towards 
him ; its color and expre8si«>n must have ijv\zaledlviui. 



196 Oir£ T TO BREAK 

" Why I " he exclaimed, and for a moment his eelf- 
satisiied air deserted him ; he looked deeply annoyed 
and disconcerted. 

I knew that I was not behaving right^ and tried to 
smile. 

" Do you hate me ? " he asked. 

" No, no ! Indeed, Mr. Vervelde, if I was certain 
that you loved me, I would try to love you." 

" You flatter me, I declare 1 " 

It was not the treatment he was accustomed to 
receive from my sex. He did not yet understand 
me — ^whedicr 1 was very fond of him, but afraid that 
he was " flirting," or whether it was possible that I 
actually did not like him. 

One tiling I began to see — that it was not in his dis- 
position to give up. He was both obstinate and per- 
severing. Perhaps to these qualities he owed much 
of his success in society. Social success implies talent 
of some sort, as well as success in higher spheres. 
If I wondered why he had chosen mej he must have 
wondered why I was not dazzled out of my Ave senses 
bv his choice. 

As we were now entering the village, the ponies 
required the most of his attention. He did not speak 
to me once until we had left the postofliice and were 
half-way home. Then he turned to me with that 
charming air whicli had so enthralled me when I 



ONLY TO BREAK. 197 

ith him in the saloon of my uncle's city 

heavenly brown eyes belie you, Marion, if 
3t just the girl to love your husband beyond 
fl. I am willing to trust you — willing to 
I and gain your love afterwards. I cannot 
m all unworthy that love. I am so much 
1 you, too, that I am scarcely unreasonable 
rou to defer to ray judgment. I desire very 
^ abroad. I know tiiat, if you and I are 
larry, you should go with me. Is it too 
»crifice for you to yield to my wishes, 

ie me feel that it was I who was wronging 

would not hear to reason, or respect his 

I had allowed him, for some weeks, to 

I would marry him, and now — ^when I tried 

his eyes and give him a reasonable answer — 

E Ali<^re Lowell came between us, with its 

, changing eyes and pleasant smile, pale 

tue, but bright, like a statue flooded with 

•then white and still, with closed eyes, as 

ind I co'^ddwoi speak to the man by iny side. 

ce we reached the gate ; a child darted out 

Ige, and swung it open before us ; we en- 

le drive, and the shadows of the trees which 

ayed over us in frolic chase. 



198 ONLY TO BREAK. 

" We are here — what shall I tell Doctor Maxwell P 

I had been thinkhig very rapidly iu the last two 
iniuutes. 

1 believed that my marriage with Mr. Vervelde, if 
consummated so quickly, would kill Aligre Lowell. 
To hear it announced that it was to take place in six 
weeks would be a death-blow to him — would ceitainly 
unfit his mind for the cliange which I hoped to see. 
If Mr. Vervelde should go abroad without me, the 
invalid would, in all probability, be well satisfied and 
at peace. Before the other's return he would be where 
nothing earthly could trouble him — ^at home in the 
house of love — where he would not need me. Then, 
perhaps, it might be easier to do my duty to Keginald 
Vervelde. 

" After you have told uncle of our relations, I will 
talk with him about it He shall decide for us." 

" A third person 1 " 

" But I am so young, Mr Vervelde, and he is my 
guardian.'- 

Here we were, before the great front entrance of 
DrowsydcU again, with every one crowding for his or 
her letters and papers. 

I looked about for Margaret, but she had not yet 
left tlie sick-room. I took refuge on a settee with 
Professor Globe and Herr Halm. Mr. Greydon was 
sitting out under a tree, looking listless and melan- 



ONLY TO BREAK, 199 

choly ; — he, too, was waiting for my cousin to come 
down. 

My aiuit and Mrs. Arnold were chatting together 
in a parlor-window ; Harry and Nellie playing cro- 
quet. 

Herr Ualm and the mild Professor were talking. 
They made some polite remark to me, and went on 
with their argmnent. As ever and forever, it touched 
more than once on evolution, the philosophy of Na- 
ture, the aspect of Science at that time, — subjects as 
engrossing to me, in my tliea mental state, as fairy 
tales had been to me in my childliood. As soon as 
my heart beat less loudly, and I could listen, I could 
but be amused by the difference between the two 
men. Ilerr Halm was the hardest kind of a Mater- 
ialist — one who by no possibility could be frightened 
by ghosts, interested in Spiritualism, or could look on 
the world and the heavens with the glowing eye of 
Imagination, wliich so often detects truths with its 
piercing gaze. lie asked for no Kevelation as a key 
to decipher the mystery of Nature. With the best 
poetry of the world at his tongue's end, and its best 
music at his fingers' ends, with his limpid blue eyes 
and his child-like manners, he was yet a terribly un- 
comprcjmising fellow, who respected nothing which 
did not bring its credentials from the Land of Matter 
itself. It was as if the Divine Essence could not per- 



\ 



200 ONL Y TO BREAK. 

meate the steely fibre of his mentality — as if, spirita- 
ally, he had been born deaf, dumb, and blind. 

For there is siurh a class of thinkers. Able to ex- 
plain, mechanically, the workings of the Universe, 
they deny the primary Will, without which the mech- 
anism could not have been. Like the Caffirs and 
Hottentots, they give to idols of wood and stone at- 
tributes which these dull images can by no means pos- 
sess. They would have us believe that the atoms they 
worship are gods. 

Professor Globe, who had lived his whole life in 
his library, like a mouse in a cheese, sat winking and 
blinking in the strong light of ilodeni Science, to 
which his eyes were unaccustomed, feebly protesting 
against facts, in a way to excite the contempt of his 
adversary, instead of resting on the broad ground of 
our inextinguishable consciousness of that which is 
not objective, but causes the objective to be. It 
caused him a shiver of horror even to contemplate 
protoplasm, nor did it much soften his aversion when 
I quoted the familiar and true lines from orthodox 
Dr. Watts : 

** God moves in a mjsteriouB way, 
His wondeis to perform." 

As the two gentlemen went on with their discna- 
BioUy my ^lancejj^^pened to rest on the Rev. Grey 



ONLY TO BREAK. 201 

Grcjdon, and I saw a deep flash rise in his face. I 
knew, before I tunied, that Margai-et had come down. 
She came out on the piazza to greet the new-comer, 
who left his tree and advanced to meet her; they 
rpoke together a few moments, when she excused 
herself, saying that she had not yet breakfasted. She 
looked at me, and I rose and followed her into the 
dining-room. 

" Aligre is much better. He said he fancied hav- 
ing you sit with him while I was away. Will it be 
a hardship if I banish you to the sick-room for an 
hour?" 

I shook my head — I could not trust myself to speak. 

" You must not allow him to talk, Marion, dear ; 
not at all. He asked for some roses. Take them to 
him, but keep him quiet." 

Like one in a dream, I left her and passed out a 
side door into the garden. I was coming in with a 
small bunch of exquisite tea and blush roses, when 
Vervelde intercepted me. 

"As a token of obedience ? " he asked, reaching out 
his hand. 

" They are for Mr. Lowell ; he requested that some 
should be placed in his room. My cousin desires me 
to sit with him while she breakfasts. May I, and 
will yon excuse me?" 

" Where is your cousin ? — in the dining-room?" 



202 ONLY T0 BREAK. 

" Yes." 

" Alone ? " 

I nodded assent, and as I went up-stairs I saw hiin 
enter the dining-room. 

" lie will not miss me. I wonder if he is going to 
tell her the proposition he made me? I wonder, and 
I wonder, and I wonder." 

I was at the door of Mr. Lowell's room by this time, 
and forgot everything in the world but him. Very 
softly I unclosed tlie door, closed it after me, and 
approached the bed. The Ught in the room was dark- 
ened by the window-blinds being drawn together, 
but the slats were open and the curtains put back, 
so that a fresh, cool breeze from the hills came 
freely in. 

Aligro had dropped asleep since he was left alone. 
He looked wan and feeble ; the dew stood on his fore- 
head ; he scarcely breathed. The long, thick lashes, 
which, as I have told you, were as beautiful as any 
woman's, touched lightly his blanched cheeks. Even 
if I had not loved him, it would have moved me 
deeply to see him lying helpless, white and still, — so 
young, naturally so high-spirited, with beauty, wealth, 
hosts (^f friends — everytliing but health 1 

Feeling for him as I did, something grasped my 
heart-strings, wliich knotted up my heart for one min- 
I lUe of almost unbearable agony — mental agony, of 



ONLY TO BREAK 203 

which poor Aligre suffered often the counterpait in 
physical pangs. 

Then the blinding tears rushed to my eyes, and I 
stood still. 

When I could see again, I crept to the bed, and, 
with a feeling something like that which I imagine a 
mother has for a child sick unto death — a feeling of 
love, compassion, and inexpressible tenderness — I 
knelt, as I had done the night before, in wordleiss 
prayer. 

It was some minutes before I could look at Aligre 
again; when I did raise my bowed head, he was 
awake and smiling faintly at me with bright, fond eyes. 

" Praying for me, darling ? " he whispered. 

" Margaret said that you were not to speak." 

" Tlien sit close — close. There is life in your touch, 
Marion." 

I laid the roses I had gathered on the pillow and 
drew a chair near, took his damp hand in mine — ^how 
I longed to know what he thought of my pmyers I 
He would not be so rude as to express contempt, or 
even disbelief, to me ; — was it not possible that he 
might gain some comfort from them { At least he 
must see that I had faith in the Unknowable One, as 
in a father, not as in a cold and unapproachable 
mystery, whom the miseries of life were not to 
touch. But I umst not talk with him now. 



204 ONLY TO BREAK, 

He lcK)ked at nie quietly, with tender ejcs, as if I 
were Lis beyond dispute. It did not seem to 
trouble him nmcli that I was affianced to Vervelde. 
It was as if he had forgotten it, and only remembered 
that I loved him. I dared not remind him of it 

I am afraid that I, too, utterly forgot the man who 
was, that day, waiting for my answer to an important 
question. 

It seemed to me as if I had been sitting by Aligre 
but a little while, when Margaret returned and told 
me that it was half-past one, and that I must go down 
to luncheon ; that Doctor Berthelot had called, and 
was anxious to take our places by the bedside for an 
hour or two : 

" We will leave our patient in good hands," she 
added, smilingly. 

It was not until I was seated at hmcheon and saw 
my uncle at the head of the table, and Vervelde's 
voice whispered in my ear, that I suddenly recol- 
lected, with a shock, the question to l>e decided that 
day. What my suitor whispered to me was this 

" I have spoken to Doctor Maxwell. He will see 
vou in the office as soon after we leave the table as 
you please." 

I glanced at uncle, met his eye, and colored nnder 
the peculiar smile with which he intimated that he 
was in our confidence. 



.•^ 1 



ONLY TO BREAK. 205 

Nellie Arnold must have tliought me a stupid girl, 
certainly Harry was vexed with me — I was so dull 
and quiet 

"I boasted to Nellie that you were always gay — no 
headaches, no ill humors," he reproached me, as we 
left the dining-room. 

" Thank you, Ilarry. If I promise to tell yon to- 
morrow why I am grave to-day, will you forgive me ? " 

"Yes, Kitten ; — but tell me now. Why wait till 
to-morrow?" 

"To tantalize you," Nellie answered for me ; "she 
knows what an inordinate amount of curiosity men 
have." 

"Nellie understands my motive." I laughed — 
laughed, with my spirits ruiming down to zero, as 
Uncle Maxwell came along and drew my hand over 
his arm, saying to the others — 

" Excuse us ; but I have an archseological paroquet 
to show Marion in the office." 

" Can't we all see it ? " asked Professor Globe. 

"Not until prepared and labelled for public in- 
spection." 

As the door closed upon us in the doctor's room, 
my imcle seated me at the revolving table which held 
the microscope, drew up a chair, sat down and 
looked at me a full minute with an affectionate, 
kindly, but puzzled gaze. 



\ 
\ 



206 ONLY TO BREAK 

" So I am to lose my pupil 1 " he began. " Stndies 
microscopical and biological are to be exchanged for 
studies matrimonial. I must say, my dear little girl, 
that I have seldom been more astonished. I suppose 
1 ought to be pleased and gratified — ^Mr. Vervelde is 
a brilliant man and a great favorite. I have no 
objections to him." 

" Uncle, I am too young to marry ! I am a mere 
cliild — an ignorant, uninformed child. I want to re- 
main with you and study for at least two years. I 
am certain such a course would be best. Will you 
tell Mr. Vervelde so, Uncle Maxwell ? will you allow 
me to remain with you, dear, dear uncle, and not 
send me off across the ocean with a stranger ? " 

•* Keally ! " — laughing, and more sm-prised than 
ever — " I do think you rather young, and a ten 
weeks' engagement rather short; but I supposed you 
approved of tlie plan." 

" I do not approve — I cannot, will not marry for a 
long time, yet. Oh, uncle, if yon care to have me 
with you — if you are not tired of me, I ask you to 
send Mr. Vervelde abroad without me. Let me stay 
with you until he returns. I don't love liim enough 
yet to become his wife — and I desire to go on with 
my studies — and I'm only a foolish girl," beginning to 
cry. 

'' Why, my dear, there is no law compelling you to 



ONLY TO BREAK, 207 

marry until you are ready and willing. I dare say 
Vervelde is impatient, and would like to take you 
with him — but not without your consent, Marion. 
If you're not quite certain that you love him better 
than you ever can or will any other man, then a long 
separation will be the wisest thing for both of you, — it 
will give you time to make up your mind." 

" Will you tell him so ? " I asked, in the most im- 
ploring manner. 

" If you really wish me to." 

" Oh, I do— I do ! " 

" I was surprised," he added, " to hear that Mr. 
Vervelde and you had become interested in each 
other. I almost suspected, last night, that it was my 
young friend Aligre who was scorching his wings." 

A burning blush swept over me. Uncle must 
have noticed it — ^perhaps understood it — for he said 
very gravely : 

" I am lieartily glad that it is not Aligre Lowell. 
Such men have no business to be falling in love." 

It was the crudest thing I ever heard my kind 
uncle say. Doubtless it was intended for my good ; 
but I felt like making a bitter reply. 

*' Aligre is one of the noblest young men I ever 
knew," he went on. " I admire as deeply as I pity 
him. But a man who knows not what hour he may 
drop dead has no business witli romance, lie can 



iOS ONLY TO BREAK 

only expect to make Bome one miserable if he in- 
dulges in it." 

" If / were the girl he loved, and I loved him, nncle, 
I should be hap])y to be miserable for his sake. I 
would show him tliat I was not afraid of a little 
after-loneliness and monrning — tliat I did not care to 
be gay and happy after he was gone. Because he 
was doomed to an early death I would try to crowd 
a lifetime of youth and love into the little time there 
was remaining to him. I would not ask him to be as 
one dead before his time — to sit at the banquet of 
life starving." I stopped, not because I had not more 
to say for Aligre, but because my lips were trembling 
more than I cared for my uncle to see. 

" Marion I " — those kind, piercing eyes read me, I 
knew ; he took my hand and patted it, but spoke 
very seriously : " It strikes me that you are more 
eloquent for my friend Aligre than you are for Mr. 
Vervelde. "Wliat does this mean ? " 

I turned away my face without making a reply. 
I could not tell the trntli, and I would not aflFect to 
misunderstand him. Whether he saw clearly how 
matters stood, or only faintly susjMJcted, I do not 
know. K the former, then he considered it the 
wisest coui-se to pass matters by as if unobserved, be- 
lieving that time would correct tlie trouble full soon. 
Aligre Ix)wcll would die, and Vervelde would come 



1 

I 

I 



ONLY TO BREAK 209 

back wlieii I had dooe with grieving for the dead ; 
and all Would be as it should be. It is the habit of 
our elders to think the feelings and hopes of young 
people short-lived, and of little real moment. From 
their superior heights of calm they look down on our 
passionate joys and despairs as on the play of chil- 
dren. 

Presently Uncle Mjaxwell continued: 

" I think with you, Marion, that you are too much 
of a child to be hurried into marriage, although 
Vervelde has experience for both of you. 1 will tell 
him how you feel about it, and that I agree with 
you. So far as keeping you with me is concerned| 
you know, little girl, that it would be a serious loss 
to have my pupil taken away from me," and he kissed 
rae, as he arose to go. 

I answered him with twenty grateful kisses : 

" He will be vexed, I know, uncle, dear ; but you 
must stand by me." 

" Certainly ; ' blood is thicker than water,* child. 
Bind your colors to my sleeve, and I \5rill be your true 
knight, to defend you from all the gallants in 
ChriBtendom." So saying, he took the blue ribbon 
from my braid and tied it about his arm with mock 
gravity, and thus supported, I found myself barely 
able to face the world, Drowsydell, and Vervelde 
again. 



\ 
\ 




CHAPTER Xm. 

BGABLEr ON THE WATER. 

"O for comfort, O the waste of a long doubt and troable 
On the sultry August eye, trouble had made me meek; 
I was tired of m j sorrow ; O so faint, for it was double 
In the weight of its oppression, that I could not speak. 

** The skiff was like a crescent, ghost of some moon departed. 
Frail, white, she rocked and courtesied as the red ware 
she crossed. 
And the thing within sat paddling, and the orescent dipped 
and darted, 
Flying on, again was shouting, but the words were lost*' 

— Jean Ingclow. 




lEOPLE could not be gayer than the people of 
^. . Di'owsydell were during the last ten days of 
^^r% the month of August. It seemed as if they 
meant to crowd the pleasure of a season into a week. 
A succession of bright days and cool evenings favored 
our outdoor and indoor ye^^^. Nellie Arnold had be- 
come a great favorite with my aunt; Mi*s. Arnold 



SCARLET ON THE WATER 211 

bestowed the grace of her regal approval upon us. 
Harry's spirits bubbled overall the tnne; the Doctor's 
learned corps of friends walked beniguantly about, 
beaming contentment ; Turner, the " light of the 
household," grew more brilliant every day in devices 
for amusement, in banquets, evening entertainments, 
and romantic excursions. A carnival round of inno- 
cent dissipations was held to be only proper as a 
celebration of the double betrothal of the son and 
niece of the house of Maxwell, and in honor of the 
first visit of the bride-elect and her mother. I say 
double betrothal, for Vervelde had taken the liberty 
of announcing our engagement, and his ring glittered 
on my finger. 

The shadow cast by Mr. Lowell's illness moved oflF 
in good season. As his was the prostration following 
severe pain, he rallied from it quickly, so that he was 
down-stairs in a few days, obliged to be very cautious 
and quiet, but bright, apparently hopeful, flashing 
on us beautiful smiles from the comer of parlor or 
piazza, whei'e he sat in his easy-chair. Poor fellow ! 
so handsome, so full of life ! — he must not dance, he 
must not play croquet or billiards, or go on the water, 
or ride on horseback, or climb the hills, or do any- 
thing we did, except talk a little, ride a little, eat 
a little. According to Uncle Maxwell, and all the 
wise ones, he ought to sit there in the midst of lovely 



r 



212 aOARLET ON THE WATEB. 

youth and glowing beauty, and crucify everj' wish 
for liis share of the sweetest tilings in life — ought to 
sit in a stony isolation, nor sigh for some one to 
linger by his side and be to him fond and dear, as 
Nellie was to Harry. It was cruel — cruel ! It made 
me bitter against the Giver who gave so much to 
some and so little to others. 

I lived a two-fold life during those strange, exciting 
days. I was a gay, careless girl, teasing and trying 
my lover; never willing to be alone with him a min- 
ute, but anxious for any frolic pretext for keeping the 
ball of amusement rolling. Turner even conde- 
scended to consult me about the programme for each 
day. I had acquired much importance as the chosen 
one of a man of Vervelde's taste. I was congrratu- 
lated, perhaps admired, certainly envied. I puzzled 
Mr. Vervelde quite so much as he puzzled me. I 
piqued him, and made him resolute that I should be 
wholly conquered by his attractions. He overcame 
his indignation at my refusal to go abroad with him, 
and devoted himself to winning from me some sign 
that at last I began to appreciate the honor and the 
glory of my destiny. 

This was my outward life. 

Apart from it was another life whichbwas more 
really mine ; an exalted, almost inspired, state, which 
could not be supjiorted very long, so weak and of 



BOABLET OHf THE WATER 213 

the earth, earthy, are we. In this other conscious- 
ness, I was in a rapt, solemn mood, praying for 
Aligre Lowell, loving him with a tender, sacred 
aflfection which made it my duty not to deny him the 
comfort he had in the assurance of my love — not 
encouraging him to think that I would ever be his in 
this world, but trying desperately to win him to see 
that there was an eternity of life beyond this one in 
which to ratify our friendship. Not for anything 
to be gained would I have deprived him of tlie poor 
consolation of my love. My heart ached at the 
patient smile with which he would see mo leave him 
for others who did not need me so much. I cannot 
now understand why I did not tell Mr. Vervelde all 
about it, and ask him to take back his ring. I had a 
Quixotic idea that, having allowed him to become 
attached to me, I had no right to discard him. I did 
not realize that the greatest wrong I could possibly do 
him would be to marry him, caring nothing for him. 

Mr. Vervelde had resolved, since I was not tx^ accom- 
pany him, to sail on the first of September instead of 
October, and had gone to the city on two occasions to 
make some arrangements for his early departure. All 
the girls condoled with me because he was going to 
be gone so long : — 

"How can you let him go?" asked Nellie. "If 
it were Harry, I should be perfectly miserable." 



1 

f 



214 SCARLET ON THE WATER. 

"Aren't yon afraid he will forget yon in two 
years ? " inquired another. 

" I do not believe he will stay away as long as that," 
I answered. 

" Oh, that is the secret, is it! Miss Gnthrie is re- 
signed because she thinks Mr. Yervelde will find it 
• impossible to keep away very long 1 " 

Dr. Berthelot was a daily visitor. I liked him 
exceedingly. I fancied that my uncle favored his 
suit. What answer Margaret would finally give I 
could not guess. It was carefully guarded from our 
guests that he had an object in his visits beyond the 
enjoyment of the company found at DrowsydelL 
Margai*et was superb in those days. Her beauty and 
dignity and gracious manners were constantly ad- 
mired. Yet we felt the loss of some quality of sym- 
pathy which would have made her more lovable. 
She was not listless, or melancholy, simply cold. 
Even I, who roomed with her, knew nothing of her 
feelings, since that passionate cry of " Oh, I am mis- 
erable! miserable!" which she once made by my 
side. 

I often caught Vervelde looking at her by stealth, 
as if he would fain take her off her guard and sur- 
prise her secret thoughts. 

The last day of August came rapidly enough. 
Some of our guests had gone. Vervelde was to take 



aOARLET ON THE WATER. 213 

an early moniing train which would convey him to 
the city in time for tlie sailing of the steamer. The 
afternoon was cool and breezy, and a sail on the river 
in Harry's little yacht was proposed. Mr. Vervelde 
came to me ; to ask me if I would not prefer going 
alone with him in a row-boat I declared, nervously, 
that I was afraid of row-boats. He smiled sarcas- 
tically. 

*^ Afraid to give me an hour at the very last I 
Come, Miss Maxwell, help me to have my revenge. 
Will you accept a seat in the little boat which I pro- 
pose to row ? " 

My cousin gave me a singular, half-terrified \oo\a — 

'* Shall I go, Marion ? " she asked. 

" I wish you would," I responded, languidly. 

A bit of scarlet here and there against a green 
lawn and field is very effective. Margaret had a 
scarlet shawl, which depended from Vervelde's arm 
as they walked do^vn the lawn, across the road, and 
through the meadow, with the others who were going 
to sail in the yacht. I watched them, and could tell 
that couple from the others by the red shawl. 

Mr. Lowell was lying down in his room. My aunt 
and Mi's. Arnold were chatting in the sitting-room. 
I felt a great wish to be absolutely alone fc»r awhile 
and concluded to steal up to the house-top, which I 
had not visited for some time. Nature looked lovelier 



r 



216 BOABLET ON THE WATER. 

than ever as I stood in absolute solitude, except for 
her sweet company. Sky and hills, river and fields — 
how beautiful all were 1 It was nearly an hour to sun- 
set, but the mass of clouds which lay motionless 
against the west temj>ered the light. How exquisite 
were the forms and colors of that mass of clouds, 
curled in airy waves, and brightening from centres of 
soft, pure gray to edges of dazzling white ! Some 
one had been up on the roof with a field-glass and 
left it tliere. I did not notice this at first ; sad and 
tired, with the struggle which was now continually 
going on in my heart, I rested myself in the ever- 
loving arms which Nature stretches to those who care 
for her. 

Perhaps an hour went by. The sun was down, and 
I was gazing dreamily at the wide, blue river, dotted 
here and there with silver sails. Suddenly a flood of 
gold poured from under the parting clouds, deluging 
the world with a weird yellow light that gave to the 
familiar landscape a strange look and aspect Far 
out on the river I saw a little boat, with something no 
larger than the breast of a red-bird flaming in it 

" There they are ! " I cried, catching up and ad- 
justing the glass. " Yes ! there are Vervelde and 
Margaret." 

I could see them through this powerful field-glass 
as plainly as if they had been no more than three 



8CABLET ON TUB WATER, 217 

rods away. The red shawl was flung over one of the 
seats ; Margaret sat in the stern ; Verveldc played a 
little with one oar, as he sat facing her, but he was 
not rowing. He appeared to be more interested in 
couvei'sation than in making progress. It amused 
me to find how I could make out their attitudes, and 
the book lying in Margaret's lap. 1 had no thought 
of intruding on them — felt no mean curiosity, no 
jealousy — nothing but the idle amusement of one 
testing the power of a glass. It never occurred to 
me that I had no business to scrutinize tliem so 
closely. Mr. Vervelde appeared to be talking — talk- 
ing ; Margaret to be quietly listening, not so much as 
mo\ing the hand which half held the book in her 
lap. 

Then — great Heaven 1 did I dream ? Was I look- 
ing at some phantom scene in a phantom glass, or 
was this a real picture being acted before my eyes in 
all its terrible reality ? I saw Vervelde hurl the oar 
which he held far out on the water. Then he seemed 
to ask my cousin a question, leaning toward her, 
while she half rose in the boat, in an attitude of 
alarm, and looked about her. He began to rock the 
boat, and she sat down ; he continued to rock it more 
and more violently ; it shipped water — as a cry froze 
on my lips, the boat settled down and the two were 

in the river. 
10 



2 j 8 aCAMLET ON THE WATER. 

The iDStrument fell from my hand ; but even then 
I remembered that the shock of hearing me Bcream 
and cry oat that Margaret was drowning might be 
the death of Mr. Lowell ; so, with my hand to my 
month, I plunged down the steps, and ran silently to 
the office. Uncle was sitting there writing a letter. 
I dragged him by the arm out of the house pn to the 
lawn. 

" Run, run ! " I gasped, " they are drowning ! I 
saw them through the glass ! " All this time I was fly- 
ing toward the field beyond which lay the river. 

" Who ? " panted my uncle, having hard work to 
keep up with me. 

'• Margaret ! " 

It took us at least ten minutes to reach the little 
dock, and when we did, of course both the sail-boat 
and row-boat w^ere gone. There was an awkward, 
flat-bottomed scow, in which stones had been conveyed 
to repair the stone-wall ; my uncle jumped into this. 

" Where ? " he asked, turning a livid face one 
second toward me. 

" Directly opposite, a little this side the clump of 
cedai-8, about fifty feet from the shore." 

Poor uncle ! as if you could save them I It would 
take you ten minutes more to reach the spot, do your 
best — most likely fifteen. 

I went down on my knees on the dock and Imried 



80ABLET ON THE WATER 219 

my face in my hands. I coald not look after him. 
I said " Oh, Gkni !'' with my lips, but I did not pray. 
I don't think I cared the least what the end of it 
might be for Vervelde. I thought wildly of my dear 
cousin foully murdered before my eyes. A great 
horror wrapped me in midnight darkness. I could 
not see, hear, or feel for I know not how long. 
At last, a loud shout, close at hand, pierced dully my 
thick senses. I looked up. A boat with three men 
was rapidly approaching the lauding; one of them 
had called to me that they were coming. Not far 
behind 1 saw my uncle returning in the old flat-bot- 
tom. Some one was with him, helping him row. My 
sight was blurred; but I noticed — as people will 
notice small matters when mider the most intense 
excitement — that the men were young and wore the 
uniform of West Point cadets. Beyond this, nothing 
made any impression on me, until they laid a dark 
figure with a pale face down on the dock, and I saw 
the face was Reginald Vervelde's. 

They spoke in low voices, looking toward the other 
boat, which soon came up, when they hastened to 
assist my uncle in lifting from it my cousin's form, 
her clothes dripping and clinging, her long hair, 
black with water, sweeping the ground as they car- 
ried her. 

" Uncle, is she dead \ " 



2'2{) SCAJiLET ON THE WATEIL 

" I hope and think not, Marion. Boys, will some 
of you carry Vervelde np to the house? One, to 
help me with my daughter." 

Grave young eyes, serious with this calamity, but 
not entirely deficient in curiosity, were turned on me 
with quick interest, as holding one of Margaret's 
hands, I went with them through the fields. 

" Marion," coming to a pause before the procession 
entered the lawn, " can I trust you to run forward 
and tell your aunt what has happened ? Be sure 
you state that they are only well drenched. Have 
some blankets heated immediately. Tell Turner 
what is wanted." 

I ran up to the house in advance. Aunt and Mrs. 
Arnold were still chatting on the absorbing subject 
of Nellie's future trousseau, 

" Auntie, dear, they fell in the water ; but they're 
nearly all right, now, and coming up the lawn this 
minute." 

" Who fell in the water \ " 

" I think it was Mr. Vervelde, for one." 

" Why, how careless. I thought you were with 
him, Marion." 

" I did not go. They are wet, and will need dry 
clothes. Uncle said to tell Turner. Auntie, Mar- 
garet is dripping, I can tell you, but^ truly, she is nol 
much hurt, uncle says." 



SCARLET ON THE WATER 221 

My trembling voice and white cheeks were more 
noticed now. The two ladies ran out on the piazza, 
and I found Turner in the office and had just life 
enough left to gasp out — 

'' Hot blankets." 

I sank down in an arm-chair then, and he had to 
find out for himself what was wanted. 

Well, in an hour there were not many traces of 
the danger and our fright beyond some wet clothes 
hung out to dry and some water-soaked breadths in 
the office carpet. Mr. Vervelde was in bed, but 
comfortable. Margaret, pale and wrapped in a 
large shawl, but with very bright eyes, insisted on 
coming to dinner, to which the West Point cadets 
stayed, after a pressing invitation from the gentleman 
whose daughter they had rescued. 

It seems that these cadets were out in one of their 
boats, about a quarter of a mile from the scene cf 
the accident — saw the boat upset, and hurried to the 
spot in time to catch the drowning pei^sons as they 
came to the surface. They were deliglited with their 
dinner and the Sclat of having rescued the lovely 
Miss Maxwell, departing, by moonlight, in high 
spirits, and with a promise from Doctor Maxwell 
that his daughter should present them soon with a 
silk flag. Gallant and gay, laden with huge bouquets 
of our choicest flowers, they returned to their boat, 



222 SCARLET ON THE WATER. 

carrying with tliem, probably, pleasant memories of 
our teare, smiles, and good wishes. 

Margaret reclined in an arm-chair on the piazza, 
and said good-night to them as they marched away— 
the moment they were gone she complained of feeble- 
ness and fatigue, and sent for Florette to assist her 
up to her room. 

I did not offer to accompany her ; I did not feel 
that I could endure to be alone with my cousin yet 

Her mother went with her and saw her cx)mfortablv 

ft 

in bed. 

Nothing but the accident was talked of that even- 
ing. I was asked a thousand questions about it- 
how did I happen to see the boat upset ? Was it not 
fortunate ? Was it not foolish of Mr. Vervelde to 
rock the boat so hard ? Was I not dreadfully fright- 
ened ? People should not be so careless on the water, 
etc., — until my head ached as well as my heart. 

It was Margaret who had given out the impression 
that the upsetting of the boat was accidental. Natu- 
rally people supposed it must have been. The 
re8ix)nsil>ility of disclosing Mr. Ver^^elde'8 guilty at- 
tempt at murder and suicide did not rest with me 
alone. 




CHAPTER XIV. 



THK VEXED QUESTION. 

*' I said to the lily, * There is but one 
With whom she has heart to be gay. 
When will the dancers leave her alone ? 

She is weary of dance and play. 
Now half to the setting moon are gone, 

And half to the rising day ; 
Low on the sand and lond on the stone 
The last wheel echoes away.' ** 

— Tennffion. 



BOOT ten that erening Turner brought me a 
note from Mr. Vervelde, saying that he was 
not well enough to come down-stairs that 
night, — would it be asking too much of my friend- 
ship to ask me to breakfast with him at half-past six 
the next morning? He had to leave the house at 
seven to catch the early train, and Turner had in- 
sisted on having a cup of coflFee for him before he 
left. Would I join him at table and give him a word 




■" • - • 



224 THE VEXED QUESTIOIf. 

of farewell to remember me by ? Certainly, a reason- 
able request from the man to whom I was engaged, 
who was leaving me for a long time. 

But the vivid pi(;ture of that river-scene was 
burned into my mind ; I could not meet him, after 
that knowledge I had, without in some way betraying 
it ; and I had already resolved, as Vervelde was leav- 
ing the country, to leave the matter entirely with 
Margaret, since it was her seci-et and not mine. I 
felt thankful that I had it in my power to decline an 
interview. At the foot of his own note I wix)te a few 
lines, excusing myself from a formal farewell in the 
morning, and bidding him good-by, then and there, 
with a cold ion voyage. Turner looked at me re- 
proachfully as he took the note, as if he guessed my 
answer and would have remonstrated with me had he 
dared. I knew that Mr. Vervelde was a favorite of 
his. 

AVhcn I went to our rr>om that night my cousin 
was, or affected to be, asleep. At half -past six, when 
I awoke, she was up and dressed, sitting by tlie 
window. I knew that, when Vervelde was driven 
away, there would be a momentary glimpse of him 
from that window. I wondered if Margaret was 
waiting for that. She sighed deeply once or twice. 
I yawned to let her know that I was awake, and she 
turned towards me, saying listlessly — 



THE VEXED QUESTION. 225 

" You ought to be down-stairs, Marion." 
" I bade Mr. Vervelde good-by last night." 
I slipped out of bed and into a pink morning-gown 
as the sound of wheels on the drive announced that a 
carriage was coming for the traveller. In five min- 
utes more the wheels were in motion again, and at a 
certain turn of the drive the open buggy came in 
sight on its way to the station. Our faces were both 
at the window. Mr. Vervelde sat beside Michael, 
looking as easy, carelessly-careful, and self-contained 
as if he could go all over the world without ruffling a 
feather. I could not realize that he was capable of 
a burst of passion which would rend in pieces the 
idol of appearances which he bowed down to. lie 
always seemed to me like a person snugly wrapped 
in himself, as in a well-fitting coat, and quite sufficient 
to himself. 

He caught sight of us, when he was nearly past, 
took off his hat and waved his hand as gracefully as 
was his wont ; yet I was certain that he turned pale, 
and for a little while I pitied him. I kissed my hand 
to him, and the tears rushed into my eyes. It was 
forlorn for him to be going off in that way. Perhaps 
Margaret had been cruel to him — driven him to des- 
peration. 

In a few minutes I had wiped my eyes and was 

selecting a pretty moniing-dress. It was evident that 
10* 



\ 



226 TEE VEXED QUESTIOJfT, ! 

my heart had not gone very far with the wanderer. 
I even felt a secret gladness that I had now an ex- 
cuse, quite satisfying to my own conscience, for not 
loving Mr. Vervelde. After what I had seen on tlie i 
water, conld it be expected that I should keep my en- 
gagement with him 1 Obviously not. I had only to 
write to him quietly, without consulting anyone, and 
give him my reasons for declining further acquaint^ 
ance with him. 

It would simplify the afFair still more if Margaret 
would explain to me the relations between them — 
that there were relations I was now positive. I ' 
glanced towards her, as I brushed out my hair, and I 
thought over the situation — she was still sitting at the I 
window, motionless, her haughty head a little drooped, 
her beautiful face cold and dreary in expression. 

Our friends remarked on her paleness when we | 
went down to breakfast, attributing it to her nearly I 
fatal bath of the previous day. 

On the contrary, I was mercilessly rallied because 
I had not lost my color, and had an appetite. i 

** I believe she has no heart," said Nellie Arnold, 
almost vexed witli me. 

" If there were an earthquake," remarked Harry, 
** she would go down, h(»lding fast to that broiled 
woodcock." ' 

Mr. Ix)well joined in the teasing ; I had never seen 



\ 



TEE VEXED QUESTION, 22 T 

him look so well, or in such health and spirits as on 
that morning — his eyes were dazzling. 

'" Never mind, Miss Nellie," I cried, after Harry- 
had said enough, " I shall watch my lord's appetite 
when he returns from Boston. If he dares to eat 
more than one slice of Saratoga potato per diem I 
shall telegraph to you that he does not love you." 

The Arnolds were to leave at noon, so as to take a 
night-boat from New York to Boston ; Harry was to 
escort them home. 

All our visitors were to leave during the day, 
except Mr. Lowell and Mr. Grey don. Aligre was 
to go in tlic morning to Doctor Berthelot's for a week 
or two ; as my uncle wished him to remain in the 
country while the weather continued so warm ; and 
had confidence in his brother-physician's skill in an 
emergency. 

The family was to return to the city to-morrow 
afternoon. 

That last complete day at Drowsydell passed too 
quickly. I was busy the most of tlie morning assist- 
ing uncle to pack a portion of the precious apparatus 
and instruments he used in his experiments. 

We had an early luncheon, followed by farewells 
to the Arnolds and others. Late in the afternoon I 
took Mr. Lowell out in the phceton, driving the black 
ponies myself. After that we had a cosey little fam- 



- ■■ ^^ 



kUbi 



228 TEE VEXED QUESTION. 

ily dinner, in pleasant contrast to our late elaborate 
banquets, Turner having gone down to the city house 
with two or three of the servants, to make ready for 
our arrival there. 

Who carries not in his mind the image of some 
perfect day, like this last day at DrowsydelH — a day 
when it is pleasure simply to live. 

The atmosphere was fairly brilliant, and of the 
most comfortable temperature ; the garden flamed 
with flowers ; two or three sprays of the Virginia 
creeper which trailed from the stone wall guarding 
the lawn, had turned crimson in the night; the sky 
was dark blue. 

We left the dinner-table an hour earlier than was 
our custom. The sun was setting as we went out on 
tha lawn after our coffee. And as it sank, like a 
counter-weight keeping the balance, up rose the moon, 
full and magnificent, in the east. She seemed to 
blush in the rosy atmosphere at rising so soon. 

Mr. Grevdon walked about with Mar^icaret : he was 
still clinging to a hope that some time she would 
change her mind in regard to his merits. Aligre and 
I strayed through the flower-garden. He made a 
wreath of scarlet poppies and placed it on my hair. 
I shuddered involuntarily, for their color reminded 
me of Margaret's shawl and what I had seen in the 
field-glass twenty-four hours earlier. 



TEE VEXED QUESTIOIf. 229 

" Do yon tremble under the ' drowsy poppies ' i " 
" No, but at their color — blood-red." 
" They set off the gold of your hair wonderf nlly." 
We looked at each other more than we talked. 
Aligre was beautiful. The soft, silvery light, 
tinged with rose, which fell over him, gave a glow 
to his marble features like that of health. There 
was something in his eyes, when he rested them on 
mine, that blazed with soft splendor, like diamonds 
that enlarge themselves in their own light. They 
thrilled me with joy. I could not help it. As for 
him, I saw that he was happy — his fate and my 
promise were alike forgotten in the brightness of the 
hour and our sweet companionship. I would do 
nothing to bring them to his mind — let him be happy, 
like other moi-e fortunate ones, for a brief hour of his 
voun": life. 

So we loitered among the flowers, and I wore his 
l>oppie8, and the light of heaven fell on our faces and 
sank into our hearts. 

When we returned to the piazza the west was pur- 
pie and the moon an hour high; the Rev. Grey 
Greydon was reading a magazine by a parlor table, 
and Doctor Berthelot was sitting near Margaret, on 
the moon-flooded eastern side of the porch. Aligre 
and I took seats on a settee at a safe distance from 
them, — I knew, if he did not, that the Doctor had 



230 THE VEXED QUESTIOIf. 

come for his final answer, and did not care to intrade 
upon them. 

It seems to me there never was, before or since, 
moonlight li^e that harvest moonlight silvering 
Drowsydell tliat night Uncle Maxwell came out on 
the steps and read his evening paper by it I could 
tell the colors of the flowers in the verbena-beds <hi 
the lawn ; the spires of the village were pointed with 
jewels. 

'^ The full-orbed moon 
Songht a precipitate pathway up through ^eayen,** 

and our eyes followed her, and her mystic power was 
upon us, until our hearts beat fast and sweet under 
her spell. 

" A glorious night on the ocean," said Uncle, as he 
folded up his paper. " I suppose the steamer is well 
out by this time. I hope Vervelde is enjoying this as 
much as we are." 

A little cloud sailed over the moon just then, cast- 
ing a shadow on Aligre. " You must to bed by ten 
o'clock, my boy. Late hours are the worst possible 
things for you," added Uncle, as he went in. 

" I wonder if Doctor Maxwell did that purposely ! 
He reminded me of the two facts which for an hour 
I had managed to forget, — ^Vervelde and my ill- 
health." 



THE VEXED QUESTIOm 231 

" Uncle Maxwell is never purposely cruel." 

" No, but he is wise. Still, I wish he had allowed 
me in my folly for once — for once — just for a little 
while ! I am weary of this everlasting self-denial ; 
I might as well be dead and done with it. Do you 
know, I was dreaming that I was well, like other men, 
and was to have a sweet little wife wlio loved me ! " 

The rapture and light had died out of his expres- 
sion ; he looked so sad and dispirited that my soul 
melted with love and pity. 

" Yon will have some time — if not here, there ! " and 
I pointed to the infinite heavens, whose airy leaves lay 
one over the other, higher than thought could reach. 

" You may as well point downward," he answered 
me, almost sullenly. " There is an ether below us as 
well as above ; and when we cut loose from the law 
of gravitation, there's no telling where we will drop 
to. You see how conventional your forms of thought 
are." 

"Then yon acknowledge that we will go some- 
where ? " 

" No, I was only humoring your figure of speech. 
*A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' I would 
rather have Marion Guthrie for mine one little year 
of this life that I know about, than the chance of hav- 
ing her for eternity in a life that I know nothing of 
and do not believe in." 



itammiA^ 



/ 



232 THE VEXED QUESTION. 

" Tou deceive yourself, Mr. Lowell, — ^you do be- 
lieve in it. I defy you to form an idea of the future 
and leave yourself entirely out of it The mere fact 
that you can project your thoughts into the future 
makes you a part of it. With God all times are now. 
Eternity broods, — it does not pass. You are like God 
in this — as far into the future as you can imagine^ bo 
far you cause it to exist for you." 

" Sophistry, fair one. I dare say I existed in the 
past, since what is always has been ; but I have no 
consciousness of it. Of what good is a future of which 
I shall have no consciousness ? 

^* * That each, who seems a separate wlvde : 
Should move his rounds, and fusing all 
The skirts of self again, should fall 
Remerging in the general Soul, 
Is faith as vague as all unsweot ; ' 

and poor consolation to one situated as I am." 

" But go on with the quotation, Aligi-e," I urged, 
'' Tennyson continues*: 

' ' ' Eternal form shaU still divide 
The eternal soul from all beside. 
And I shall know him when we meet. 
And we shall sit at endless feast. 
Enjoying each the other's good : 
What vaster dream can hit the mood 
Of love on earth ? ' 



THE VEXED QUESTIOHT. 233 

" I love yon, Aligre, as the poet loved liis friend. 
Do you wish to make me wretched by trying to de- 
stroy the hope I have, that if ^ou die first, I have not 
lost yon forever ? I do not know what I should do 
without that * vast dream ' which makes our losses 
here easy to bear, because we know not what day we 
may find our own again." 

" Dear Marion," speaking very tenderly, but with 
that deep sadness which betrayed his mood of unbe- 
lief, " I had not thought of you as suffering by my 
want of faith. It is selfish, basely selfish, of me to 
try and draw you into the shadow of my fate. I 
must not do it. I must have courage a little while 
longer. There is this, at least, for man to congratu- 
late himself upon, — if his life is stunted and imper- 
fect, it is soon ended. There is an end to pain as 
well as to other things." 

" I saw a few lines of Victor Hugo's to-day, so 
beautiful that I committed them to memory. May I 
say them to you ? " 

" Certainly. I shall like them because you repeat 
them." 

" * In giving to man for his sole end and aim the 
life of earth, you aggravate all his miseries by the 
final negation. And that which was only suffering, 
that is to say, the law of God, is changed to despair, 
the law of hell. The duty of all of us, legislators, 



234 THE VEXED qUESTIOlSr. 

bishops, poets, is to help raise all faces toward heaven, 
to direct all souls toward the future life. Let us say 
with high confidence, that no one has suffered unjustly 
or in vain. Death is a restitution. Gkxi appears at 
the end of all. It would not be worth while to live 
if we were to die entirely. That which alleviates 
labor and sanctifies toil is to have before us the vision 
of a better world through the darkness of this life. 
That world is to me more real than the chimera 
which we devour, and which we call life. It is for- 
ever before my eyes. It is the supreme certainty of 
my reason, as it is the supreme consolation of my 
soul' " 

"If justice to us requires a future and better 
life, then there should be one also for the car-horses 
of New York. I wonder if they, weary and 
scarred, are cheered on their painful way by visions 
of immortal grass-lands rolling forever green. When 
you come to absolute justice, Marion, we may 
question a good many things — the lot of women, the 
relation of the sexes, the foredoom of children born 
in the stews, the existence of vice and pain in the 
economy of Nature. If you had made the Uni- 
verse, tender-hearted one, you would have made it 
without anything bad in it, I dare say, — at least 
without a craving of one animal to feed on 
another : 



THE VEXED QUESTION. 235 

** * I cannot live a week 
But some fair thing most leave the daisied della, 
The joj of pastures, bubbling springs and wells, 
And grassy murmur of its peaceful days, 

To bleed in pain, and reek, 
And die, for me to tread life's pleasant ways.* " 

"Are you not guilty of ingratitude, Aligre? — Is 
there anything which would refuse life because it 
had to die ? Is not the life itself a recompense for 
death ? What are you bitter against ? — against life, 
with all its suffering, or against the idea of annihila- 
tion ? " 

" I am most bitter," he answered, changing the 
subject, "because Vervelde met you before I did 
and because I have a pain in my heart which warns 
me that I have no business with love and you. Doc- 
tor Maxwell says that it is not impossible that I may 
live to see thirty-five, by being very careful to only 
half live. By taming myself down to the condition 
of a jelly-fish I may dream away a few monotonous 
years. I must have no feelings — no emotions — no 
ambitions; I must not hurry — I must not want any- 
thing — I must do nothing. I must subside as closely 
into my original protoplasm as possible. I am afraid 
I shall never succeed in drawling out those indolent 
ten years. I am of an active temperament ; and I 
have passiond and emotions that often get the better 



236 THE VEXED QUESTION. 

of prudence. It will be all over with rae very 
suddenly, some day. I shall bring the * golden bowl ' 
to the fountain in quest of water, and it will be broken 
there." 

Indeed, in that still, white moonlight I could hear 
his poor heart throb. I was frightened for fear he 
was in danger of another spasm of that terrible 
pain. 

" You may live ten very quiet, but veiy happy 
years, dear Aligre. Tliere are pleasant books to read, 
and music to listen to, — the sympathetic company of 
Nature, never exciting, always soothing. With beau- 
tiful things about you, and friends t(» love yon, and 
leisure to study calmly the mystery of mysteries, you 
may make these years, apparently idle, very rich and 
full of the noblest life." 

" Ah ! if I had you always with me, dearest 
Marion ! It would be easy tlien to be contented." 

'' I want you to be more than contented — I want 
you to aspire." 

" With clipped wings ! Marion, you ought to be- 
long to me. I need you more than any other human 
being needs you." 

'^ I do belong to you, Aligre, as your friend. Yon 
do not realize how earnestly I love you. I shall 
never cease to pray that the blinding crysalis of 
scepticism may be broken, and Psyche, clear-eyed and 



THE VEXED QUESTION. 237 

large-winged, arise out of it and soar heavenward. 
Kemember always that I am praying for that. I 
bear a clock, somewhere, striking ten. I suppose you 
must obey Uncle Maxwell ; but you will have the 
moon at your window for horn's after you go to your 
room. Good-night, and sleep deep and sweet, as if 
you were drugged with the essence of my poppy- 
wreatli. I would crown you with it for the night, 
but it is falling to pieces." 

" The fate of flowers, Marion. Are you really 
going ? " 

" Ya3 — so that yyn will have no excuse for diso- 
beying the doctor," and kissing my hand to him, I 
stole away. 

After all, we did not leave Drowsydell the next 
day. The weather was almost too warm, and tlie 
country quite too charming for us to desert our 
breeze-fanned cottage so abruptly. Besides, Doctor 
Berthelot, who had won a calm consent to his suit, 
begged Doctor Maxwell to remain a week longer, 
that he might enjoy Margaret's company. 

The ex-reverend Mr. Greydon had the misery of 
congratulating her on choosing a nobler man than 
himself — then went away, subdued and uncertain 
what to do next. Poor fellow ! with many brilliant 
qualities, he was yet one of those who accept their 
destiny from the hands of others, instead of hewing 



238 



THE VEXED QUESTIOJBT. 



it out for themselves. He seemed to have gained no 
peace by his desertion of the ministry. 

Aunt and uncle were pleased at Margaret's eu- 
gagement. She appeared just as usual — no changing 
color, no sweet seriousness — ^nor, in the seclusion of 
our chamber, any girlish confidences. I told her I 
believed Dr. Berthelot to be a man whom slie could 
both love and respect, and kissed her warmly as I 
wished her joy, and there our conference on the sub- 
ject ended. 

Aligre and I were much together, enjoying each 
other's company as if we were brother and sister, 
while the golden days rolled over Drowsydell, and we 
saw the creepers turning scarlet, and the sunsets 
melting into opaline twilights, and the evenings 
darkening down — for the moon was slipping into her 
third quarter — upon a world sentinelled by dusky 
mountains. 




CHAPTER XV. 

IN LABOR IS BEST. 

*' Be mine a philoeopher's life, in the quiet woodland ways, 
Where, if I oannot be gay, let a passionless peace be mj lot. 

— Tennyson. 

**When I and Theologns cannot agree, 
Shall I give up the point, pray you, or he ? 



Now, when my competitor's distanced and blown, 
And I think the prize goblet is fairly mine own. 
Oat starts, from the road-side, a creature tremendous, 
Of stride and proportion uncouthly stupendous. 
And on this Phenomenon Paleontologous 
High-perched, who should sit but the doughty Theologus ? " 

— JuUa Ward Howe, 




II, Uncle, liow happy I am ! " 
" Really ? " 
Wu^ " Really. I have not been so happy in 

weeks. The prospect of plenty of work raises my 
spirits." 



mutumk 



240 ^^ LABOR 18 REST. 

" I am pleasantly disappointed. I thought mj little 
pupil had become so engrossed in the pleasures of 
flirting that she would find it dull in her uncle's 
laboratory." 

" Flirting 1 Did you use the word * flirting,' 
ITncle Maxwell ? " 

"I certainly did. A low-toned word, I admit, but 
expressive. A young lady who encourages two gen- 
tlemen to each believe himself the chosen one, even 
going so far as to engage herself to one of them, yet 
with no intentions of marrying either, seems to me to 
merit the severe accusation implied in the term.*' 

I nearly let fall the plates of ground glass I had in 
my hands, and stood staring at my companion in con- 
fusion and surprise. 

We were up in an attic room of the city house — a 
good-sized room which my uncle had seized upon and 
caused to be painted black — floor, ceiling and walls, 
and tims dedicated it to his experiments with Light. 

We were getting things in order there for a season 
of solid work. I stood blushing under this unexpected 
disgrace ; tears came to my eyes. Had I been guilty 
of such conduct? Did it look so to others? 

" It is a sin easily committed by young ladies," he 
remarked, seeing my tears : " a sin of thoughtlessness." 

" I never meant to trifle with any one. Uncle Max- 
well. I don't know how it came about, — I thought I 



IN LABOR IS BEST. 241 

liked Mr. Vervelde at first. I don't know what lie 
meant bj' asking me to love him. I do not believe he 
cares for me. I have reason to know that he does not." 

'^ Then why should he have asked you to marry 
him ? He is not one who would do such a thing on 
hnpulse. I can see that your fresh yoiujg beauty 
completely enthralled this man of the world. lie 
was deeply in love, or he would not have pleaded to 
take you with him. But it was wise of you not to 
go, — not many girls would have refused." 

" What do you blame me for, then ? " 

" Why, it seems to me that you are too indifferent 
to him. Also, was it not a littleinconside rate of 
you to allow poor, doomed Aligre to fall in love with 
you ? '' 

" I was kind to him, because you told me to be, 
and he was ill. I did not think, until too late — of 
course, I could not imagine " 

" Aligre must never marry," said my uncle, 
seriously. 

" lie knows it, sir." 

" He does not act as if he did." 

" But you told him so." 

" Yes. It was cruel kindness, — I thought best to 
warn him." 

My lips quivered : I wanted to say, " I shall never 

marrv, either!" But I hid this resolution deep 
11 



I 

• • 

f 



242 ^^ LABOR 18 RB8T, 

down in my heart, asking, as soon as I could speak 
calmly : 

" Do you think my friendship injures him, uncle? 
If it does, you are at liberty to ask him never to come 
to your house. He is fond of me, and I try to help 
him pass the time when he is tired of his enforced 
idleness. I desire to help, not hurt him." 

" It is too late to deny him your company now, 
Marion. lie would quickly pine himself to death. 
He is tlie sick — you are the well one ; therefore it is 
to you that I talk over this matter. You ai-e reason- 
able, for eighteen, my little girl — ^)our duty to Aligre 
Lowell bids you always to remember for him that he 
has no right to marry. Yonr friendship can do him 
no harm, — ^your love may. Take my advice — remain 
true to Mr. Vervelde, who will sometime make the 
long years of the future bright for you. Give a 
steady friendship to Aligre — make him realize that 
he has no hope whatever of anything beyond that 
from you — that you are almost the wife of another 
man — and you will do what is the only safe or wise 
thing for both of you. I speak to you in this manner 
Marion, because I have fancied that your growing 
indiflFerence to the one who expects to marry yon, is 
due to your interest in our young patient. I felt that 
I must put you on your guard." 

He spoke with the utmost kindness and a£Fectioii, 



IN LABOR IS BEST. 243 

meaning my good only. What he said was true, too 
^-except that he did not know my reasons for think- 
ing Mr. Vervelde not sincere with me —and oh, lie 
could not dream how I loved Aligre Lowell, or what 
sacrifice I would make for him. I waited until I 
could speak. Dear uncle ! he did not know that in 
pronouncing Aligre's doom he pronounced mine, 
too — so far as the sweetest hopes of this life are 
concerned ! 

" I mean to be nothing to Mr. Lowell but his friend 
— ^liis true friend. I believe both he and I are 
(capable of an unselfish friendship. He has no sister. 
He likes my singing, playing, reading. I should feel 
it to be needlessly cruel to deny him my society." 

" So it would. But Vervelde has the first rights, 
always, remember that ! He may not see this inti- 
macy in the same light that I do." 

After what I had seen in the boat, from the roof 
of Drowsydell, I was not deeply impressed by a sense 
of that gentleman's rights. If anyone were to be 
jealous, it should be me, only that I did not care 
enough for him for that. Uncle could not know all 
this, however, unless I told him, and the time had not 
come for me to explain myself yet. I wanted some 
explanation from Margaret first, and a letter from 
Mr. Vervelde. I half-hoped that the first word I re- 
ceived fn»m him, in view of our cold parting, would 



244 IN LABOR 18 REST. 

be to release me, and I desired the proposition to 
come from that side. 

Neither could I tell Uncle Maxwell of the strong, 
secret hope I cherished of wuming Aligre to see that 
death was not tlie end of all, but the beginning of true 
living. He faced death with the smiling heroism of 
a soldier. I wanted him to face it with the lovin£[ 
confidence of a Christian. 

If my uncle knew this, he would not ridicule mei 
but he would not sympathize with me. To him it 
would be the foolish enthusiasm of a young girl, who 
was impressible, but who was also incapable of reas- 
oning. He was not a Materialist, after the cast-iron 
pattern of llerr Halm — he acknowledged the unfold- 
ing of nature, through the successive processes of 
evolution, to be the superb exhibition of the workings 
of an intelligent Will — but he could accord to man an 
imperishable personality. I might almost say that 
his reverence for God was too great, his estimation of 
man too small. 

^' 1 do not wish to dampen your spirits, my dear,'' 
he continued, seeing that I remained silent and 
thoughtful. " Tour cheerful company and assistance 
do me a world of go^)d. I am not certain but that / 
was the jealous one ! I am glad that you feel like 
work, and are resolved to continue your studies. We 
shall have a pleasant winter, I hope. I wish to get 



IN LABOR IS REST. 245 

my notes into shape for publication; and there's to be 
a wedding at Christmas, 1 hear." 

« Marjraret's ? " 

" So they told me last evening. I snpi)Ose you will 
lose all interest in study when the bridesmaid's toi- 
let becomes the theme of discussion." 

" Uncle, you are none too complimentary to-day. 
Aunt will order my dress, I will wear it when the 
time comes, — that's all there is of that. Where shall 
I put these plates ? " 

" llerc, if you please. I begin to understand that 
your sex has been basely slandered ! Your fingers 
were made to handle delicate instruments, Marion. 
Your touch is as firm as it is airy. What shall I do 
for an assistant when Vervelde carries you off ? " 

*' We are forbidden to borrow trouble, uncle. 1 
may decide that it is my ' sphere' to remain in this 
house of mourning." 

" It is rather hearse-like here, isn't it ? Never 
mind. The nvysX, of your work can be done down- 
stairs. It would surprise some of those lazzaroni who 
are too lazy to do anything but beg, if they could 
know how much genuine labor is jierformed by the 
rich. Mine is one of the most industrious families 
in this city. Your aunt is ffenerallv verv busv from 
this time until the first of June ; her name is on 
twelve Relief Societies, she visits the poor, and super- 



/ 



246 TN LABOR 18 REST. 

intends good works of all kinds. This, with her 
large circle of accjuaintances to entertain and be en- 
tertained bv, leaves her few leisure hours." 

" There, uncle, that reminds me ! " 

'' Of what ? " 

I would not explain ; but after lunch I went to my 
aunt and begged of her to take ten per cent, of my 
income, and use it in her charitable work. 

" 1 would make a suggestion, Marion," was her re- 
ply. " Be your own almoner. You will make mis- 
takes at first ; but you will learn, after a while, not 
to throw your money away on vicious ' professionals.' 
Before many weeks you will find some one, if you 
are on the look-out, to whom it will be a great 
pleasure to you to afford relief. Perhaps you will be 
able to place some poor girl of your own age — who 
has not always been poor, but is as sensitive and deli- 
cate as we are — in a position to do well for herself. 
There will be solid satisfaction in that." 

" I am sure there will, aunt ; thank you for the 
suggestion." 

It was as uncle said — we were a busy family. At 
the same time we had plenty of leisure for recreation 
and social pleasure. In that luxurious house affairs 
were conducted with business regularity. There was 
very little dawdling ; consequently, there was ample 
time in which to accomplish all we wished. We left 



IN LABOR IS REST, 247 

the breakfast table at nine o'clock. The solid work 
was done between that and Innclieon at one o'clock. 
My annt and Margaret had tlieir duties. As for me, 
I ])a8sed the time much as I had done before we 
went into the countr)', — two hours to text-books, two 
to experiments with uncle, or to the preparation of 
specimens for the microscope, or some kindred em- 
ployment. Once or twice a week I \rrote out his 
notes for my uncle. 

After luncheon, two hours to making a handsome 
toilet and to out-door exercise, walking or driving ; 
after that, I generally gave an hour to the piano or 
organ — for I was now under Herr Halm's instruc- 
tion — then I had, almost always, from that until din- 
ner for reading tlie books which pleased me best. 

I did not care to make or receive calls of the 
merely formal order ; being not yet in society, I es- 
caped this. But, as for company, I had plenty of it, 
and of the best and highest the metropolis afforded. 
Doctor Maxwell, as I have said, was a great favorite 
witli the savants of New York — not of one class of 
learned men, but all — doctors of divinity as well as 
medicine, poets and professors, lovers of art — these 
thronged his house, happy in its atmosphere of re- 
fined taste and wide-awake, ardent intelligence 
Here tlie young artist, poor and struggling, famished 
for the beauty and luxury his imagination craved. 



tt^^ 



248 ^y^ LABOR IS BEST. 

could feast himself on loveliness, and have his social 
instincts satisfied at the same time by being treated 
like a gentleman. 

We seldom dined alone ; once a week we had a 
dinner-party, every evening we had visitors, from 
half a dozen to a score. These informal receptions 
fixed themselves in the saloon. The drawing-rooms 
were elegant, but the saloon was in-csistible. It 
was always a perfect realm of enchantment to me. 
There, in brief winter afternoons, I carried my bo<>k 
to the western window to catch the latest illumina- 
tion on its pages, looking uj), now and then, to note 
how the pale gold of the chilly sunset bronzed the 
pictures and statues at that end of the gallery. 
Curled up in an Elizabethan chair, or on a i*eal Per- 
sian rug, whose intricate pattern was cunningly con- 
trived to wile me from such serious employment, I 
applied myself resolutely to the works of modem 
philosophy, dfe|>ecially of its master, Herbert Spencer. 
It was hard reading at first, — not so dry as it was 
hard, for I had to bend all the energies of my mind 
to the task. J>ut I wanted to know whether the 
mountain of trufks — indisputable trutlis — heaped to- 
gether by this giant w<jrker, crushed or upheld Chris- 
tianity, or had anything to do, really, with the heaven 
of religious perception that hangs above our minds. 

But I am anticipating. In about four weeks after 



nr LABOR 18 REST. 249 

his departure, I received a letter from Mr. Vervelde, 
dated in Paris. It was a long, and I am bound to 
confess, an interesting letter, with a laughable account 
of his steamer experiences and acquaintances, and 
plenty of gossip about the queen-city of the world. 
Except that it began with " My^dear Marion," and 
ended with " Ever your faithful Reginald," there was 
not a word of affection in it — not a touch of love- 
making or reference to our engagement. 

" Good ! " I commented, when 1 finished it, " he is 
about ready to release me without farther trouble." 

I felt very light-hearted : there was to be no diffi- 
culty in breaking oflF our unfortunate accjuaintance. 
I answered him with a budget of news, including my 
cousin's engagement, ending my letter by a request 
that it should close our correspondence. 

I did not hear from him again in some time. 

Doctor Berthelot did not come to town to reside 
until the first of November. Once in October, during 
a golden " spell of weather," we all, including Mr. 
Ijowell, went up and spent three days at his villa 
near Drowsydell. There Margaret had the opportu- 
nity of becoming acquainted with his two little girls, 
eight and six years of age, pretty, little, polite crea- 
tures, with the dark complexions and eyes of French 
children. She was shy of them at first — far more 

shv of them than they of her — for to one of her re- 
11* 



250 IN LABOR 18 REST. 

served temperament it was not natnral to take these 
little ones immediately into her affections, or, at least, 
to show it, if she did. I found her, the third day, 
sittins: in a summer-house where there was a fine view 
of the river, with Viola, the younger, in lier lap, tell- 
ing her a wonderful fairy story of her own invention, 
wliile Bertha, the elder, sat at her feet, looking up at 
her with wide, wise eyes. I looked n[K)n this as an 
auspicious beginning. 

Those three days at Doctor Berthelot's were deli- 
cious days to Aligre and me. We spent much of onr 
time rambling over the grounds of Drowsydell ; or sit' 
ting on the familiar settee on the broad piazza through 
the sunny hours of the afternoon. The plac<5 was 
fairer, in some of its aspects, than in midsummer. 
Against the dark background of pines and cedars 
which lined the hills, stood out clumps or soh'tary 
trees of yellow beech, purjile-red oak and scarlet 
maple. A few persistent flowers still flared in the 
ruins of the garden ; the air was sweet with a sad, 
faint sigh of perishing leaves ; a ring of amethyst 
lay all day around the horizon. Aligre was much 
l>etter than in the summer. Both of us at times for- 
got that ho was a dcx^med man. I am afraid that we 
allowed my uncle's warning to slip out of our minds. 
We loved each other, and we were so young, it seemed 
incredible that there should be no hope. To walk 



m LABOR IS REST. 251 

abont, talking in low voices — to sit and rest, looking 
silently into each other's eyes — ^to be near each other 
— doubled the sweetness of living, and banished that 
haunting ghost ever, ever following us, except when, 
in the richness of this two-fold life, we did for a little 
while forget that his fleshless face looked over our 
shoulders. 

I often wondered that Doctor Berthelot could be as 
contented as he appeared to be with the cold gentle- 
ness of his affianced. Measuring Margaret by my- 
self, I knew that she did not love the man she was so 
soon to marry. 

Shortly after that visit to the counti*y, came Mr. 
Vervelde's second letter. It expressed surprise at the 
request I had made to drop our correspondence — ^just 
begun — and demanded an explanation. 

"Ho knows that our engagement is only a farce! 
I expected him to allow it to die quietly out ; since 
he will not, I am going to Margaret. I think she 
owes me at least the history of their past acquaint- 
ance." 

I had long ago ceased to wear the diamond Yer- 
velde had placed on my finger. 





^ ////>- 1 




IH^^^^PK^^H^v^ku^^VA V^^BI 


:ice^ i 





CHAPTER XVL 

THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 

" Wherewith do the hall pillars shake, 

OQueen, Olove?" 

— Wmum McrrU. 

*' What 'b that shadow that I see 

Adown the hall?*' 

—Ibid. 




DID not answer Vervelde's second letter at 
all. Neither did I, at that time, say anything 
to Margaret ; but allowed events to take their 
course, knowing tliat I could consult my cousin at any 
time when it became necessary, and not caring to 
disturb her, in the midst of her preparations for the 
wedding, by introducing a subject so untoward, until 
it became imperative to do so. 

Every day I thought less and less of the absent one. 
Eveiy hour of my time, and energy of my nature was 



THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 253 

employed in my studies and tlie social duties which 
followed. Whenever he was well enough, Mr. 
Lowell spent the evening with us, and not infrequently 
the afternoon. His father's house was but three 
blocks from ours. The reason I had not met him on 
first coming to my uncle's was that he and his father 
had been at the sea-side. 

I was as fascinated with my work at the microscope 
as ever in my childh(X)d 1 had been witli the romance 
of fairyland. Aunt Maxwell and cousin Harry often 
jested at my expense; but uncle approved my en- 
thusiasm and helped me as patiently as I did him. 
The work he was writing was on the Brain — his 
beautiful experiments in the black room were pui-sued 
simply as an amusement. While he examined animal 
tissues, I, who had prepared them for his inspection, 
got ready for my own delight the wonders of the 
vegetable world. Our microscope was of superior 
merits ; as, if a lens, by chance or skill, happened to 
be made better than any previous lens, it was imme 
diately offered to Doctor Maxwell. 

I can assure the young ladies who read this page 
without " skipping," that the amusement it afforded 
exceeded even the profound pleasures of worsted- 
work. In order to examine, say a section of a leaf 
microscopically, I prepared it by first removing the 
chlorophyl, which was done by putting it into a solu- 



254 THB SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 

tion of chlorinated soda, for several hours, to reuder 
it transparent. Then I stained it by immersing it in 
a solution of lieinatoxalin, which gave it a beautifnl 
purple color, and brought out every vein and cell 
distinctly. To preserve the leaf for future use I put 
it in alcohol for three or four hours, then into oil of 
cloves, and from thence carefullv mounted it on a 
glass slide and covered it with a thin piece of glass 
cemented down with Bill's cement, or the oxide of 
zinc and Damar varnish, which secured it from tlieair. 
It was dainty work, not unbecoming to the most fas- 
tidious young lady, while the interest of thus search- 
ing the very heart of nature, was endless, ever-new 
and absorbing. For me it had a double interest I 
constantly questioned — Does nature originate the idea 
upon whose foundation she works, or was it supplied 
to her ? Does Matter work self-consciously and with 
self-conscious results ? 

The whole bent of my mind was toward fortifying 
myself in my position as a believer in the immortal- 
ity of the soul. How could I bring Aligre to think 
as I did, unless my own faith was convincing? I do 
not deny that I was assailed by fierce doubts. I could 
not live in that family and have it otherwise. I was 
forced to admire my uncle's character as well as to 
respect his keen intellectuality. The men whom I 
heard, every evening, discussing with more or less 



THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 255 

earnestness tlie aspects of tlie best thought of the day, 
were men whom I liked and esteemed above all 
others — men of pure lives, of warm sympathies, and 
self-denying benevolence. It was because they were 
honest, truthful and thoughtful men, that they stood 
in the advance-guard, as they did. 

I could not look upon them with holy horror be- 
cause they were outside the pale of the Church. I 
could not despise them. Above all things I could 
not refute their propositions. 

Wliat could I do? — ^an ignorant girl, inclined, from 
mere want of developed strength, to lean this way, 
or that, on the opinions of others. There was only one 
thing I could do. The greatest minds to which earth 
ever gave birth, had pondered the Great Question and 
founded various theories — had turned it in every 
light — ^liad considered it more profoundly than it 
was in the scope of my narrow powei-s to consider it. 
There remained for me but one thing — to study my- 
self. If, out of the inner temple, came consent to 
death, then I would believe in the soul's annihilation. 

Sometimes I looked ai-onnd in astonishment on 
a group, whose brilliant wit electrified me, whose 
thoughts flashed back and forth kindling kindred 
thought, whoso conclusicms, in their inexorable logic, 
were irresistible ; whose speculations in their vast 
scope were marvellous : perhaps the majestic music 



I 

V 



256 THE SKELETON IN THE CL08BT. 

of the organ made their eyes shine with phantoms of 
angels which visited tlieir minds too beautiful to be 
described or made known, from one to another, 
but which stood in those eves and looked out a mo- 
ment with self -yearning shadows of glances : — per- 
haps the words of some poet, quoted b>' some appre- 
ciative talker, caused to pass over their kindling faces 
" the h'ght that never was on sea or land," and through 
their thoughts faint visions of imagined splendors 
yet to be and never yet realized. 1 looked at these 
people with astonishment, asking myself : " Is it possi- 
ble they believe that all this magic in tliem is to die 
utterlv, and that thev are reanidlsd to it f " 

More than once I rei)eated to myself the impas- 
sioned words of Castelar : '• Do what you please with 
the atoms that course through the fibres of plants, 
the globules of blood that descend to the callous feet 
of the peasant or rise to the brain of the philosopher, 
but do not attack my personality, nor dissolve me in 
a barbarous connnunisui of matter. 1 feci my close 
kinship with all created things, but at the same time 
I feel it with all uncreated things." 

This is no argument, only an ebullition of feeling. 
But is feeling, ?. e.^ desire and faith, not to be ad- 
mitted as a factor? 

I remember one evening, in particular, when quite 
a number of friends were gathered in the saloon, in- 



THE SKELETON Hf THE CLOSET. 257 

binding Professor Glote, Mr. Grejdou — who Lad 
failed to obtain a profcssorehip and waa doing no- 
thing — Doctor Bertliclut with a friend of his, some 
others, and lastly, becaiibc most important, quite a 
celebrated English scientist then lectuiing in this 
cnnntr)-. It was after a siimptiioua dinner in honor 
of tlie Englishman, and the company was in gay 
spirits, Jiving airily from theme to theme, when the 
eye of the stranger fell suddenly on the Skeleton from 
before which some one had just drawn the cnrtain. 
" Allow me to present my friend, Mr. Murphy, 

Prof. E " said Uncle Maxwell, noticing that the 

lisitor's eyes lingered, with some, coriosity, on the 
tenement from which 

" Life and tbonf^t had eone away 
LettTiuK doois sod windows wid«, " 

" Witii all the pleasure imaginable, sir. I hope I 
see you well, Mr. Mnrphy," the Englishman responded 
pleasantly. 

" Sever betther in my life, sirr," answered the 
f-keleton, politely. It was the first time we had ever 
kno\ni him to spealc, having considered speech one 
of the Lost Arts in Lis case, and wo all turned, a 
little startled, and stared at him. 

" Do you pi-etend to assure us that yonr condition 



258 ^^22? SKELBTOir IN THE CLOSET. 

is improved?" continued Prof. B after a 

minute's perplexity. 

" Yon remember the poet says — ^ af ther life's fitful 

fa\nir he slapes well.' That's tme, Professor B . 

I've not been troubled with a headache for about two 
years, now. I used to earn me bread by the sweat 
ov me brow ; but now I just ate and slape — barring 
the ating. Fax, as to that, I've been ' not where 1 ate, 
but where I am aten.' Hamlet hit the nail on* the 
head, that time. They hav'nt left me a rag of fledi 
on me bones to kape out the cold." 

" Are you certain you sleep % " queried Mr. Grey- 
don, timidly. 

'* Did ever yees hear the likes o' that, now ! A man 
widout any brains at all could tell ye 'twas jast 
slape, slape, from momin' till night an night till 
mornin'." 

" But your %ovl — what has become of that ? Tell 
us that, good Murphy, and you shall have a gold 
medal in which to clothe yourself. Tliere are ever 
so many people anxious to know whether you ever 
had any — if you did, what happened to it," — ^this 
from my uncle. 

" That reminds me of the story of the borrowed 
kittle, gentlemen an' ladies," responded Murphy in 
a tone more lively than would seem possible from 
such grim jaws — first, " I never borrowed the kittle; 



THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 259 

Bccond, it was cracked whin I got it ; third, it was 
whole wliin 1 returned it." 

" IJut vou do not answer my question." 

*^ I liave answered it by a riddle, sirr, axcuse me 
fur savin' it." 

'' What we might expect from an Irish hod-carrier! 
TliieL.rest of us may have souls, and yet it would be no 
pSyLthat he had one," mummred Harry, discon- 
tentedly. 

" I had a good-enough sowl fur anybuddy oncest. 
— Fax, I paid tlie priest a round sum to make it fire- 
proof, but I fear me its sthrayed away, beyont re- 
covery: I've not seen it since I came here. 'Here's 
fine revolution, an' w^e had the trick to see't.' — 

"So you've lost what little soul you had?" said 
Uncle Maxwell. 

" Och hone ! yes. Wud it he axin too much of a 
faver to request yees to put up a thrifle of an adver- 
tisement — ^Strayed or StoUn^ Pat Murphy's sowl. 
Plase return to the owner an' no questions axed ? ' " 

" Put you aver that you are better oflF without it. 
Murphy." 

" Shure, that's so, docthur. I used to thremble in 
the dark for the least little bit of a lie fur fare the 
old divil was behint me ; but Pra not bothered wid 
bad drames now. On the whole, as your honor says, 



r 



260 THB SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 

I'm betther off widout it, an' I'll not thrubble yees to 
advertise. A word in your ear, docther." 

" Out with it Murphy ! " 

" I've a number of cousins in New York, an' I want 
ye, before I ' draw the curtain of my couch about me, 
an' lie down,' to promise me to be kind to them when 
ye mate them." 

"Certainly. What are their names? — all Mur- 
phys ? " 

" You'll know them when ye see them, docther, — 
its those little chaps with red coats as goes around wid 
the hand-organs." 

" Oh ! I see. Cousins of yours, you say ? " 

"Blood-relations as shure as iver you were bom! 
Be tinder of the little fellow you've got up-staire, an' 
don't let him come to his sinses afther the operation." 

" I'll chloroform him well. Murphy, I promise you. 
But how did you know I had little Jacko?" 

" You'll have to wink for me, docther, for, by me 
troth, I'm unable to wink fur meself." 

Aliorre and I were sittinoj not far from each other 
when the skeleton began his part (?E this edifying 
c^Miversation. Of course we knew at once — as did the 
others — that some ventriloquist was present, though 
we were unable to detect the performer. Aligre's 
hand crept into mine and lay there, trembling a little, 
as if for protection. He was thoroughly brave, as I 



THB SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 261 

have said, but to one in his precarious health, know- 
ing that inevitably, frightfully soon — 



(( 



To this oomplezion muBt he oome at last," 



and with nerves weakened by long endurance of pain, 
it must have been something of a trial to hear the 
light remarks which issued from between those grin- 
ning jaws. I glanced around at him and met a look 
which I shall never forget, from those glorious eyes 
whose light was more to me than all the light of all 
the suns. 

For the first time I saw in them disapproval of the 
doctrine of the sceptics, and the glow of a hope that 
was inextinguishable. 

"The skeleton is a false witness," I whispered 
to him, with a smile, my heart beating fast and 
sweet. 

"Pray, Mr. Muri)hy," said the English scientist, 
amused with the idea of getting a skeleton to philoso- 
phize, " since you left us, have you learned the secret 
of Archebiosis ? " 

" How can a man as dead as a door-nail be expected 
to learn? Yees must get all the knowledge ye can 
while you've ycr five sinses to help ye. Fax, yees 
may make a glass through which a flea will be tin 
times bigger than an elephant, but yees'U niver make 
one as will allow yees to see protoplasm walking 



262 THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 

around on its own little futs. An' if yees did^ 
t'would still be as impossible to tell how it came to 
be stirring about of its own swate will, as t'would be 
fur yees to axplain how I'm talkin' to yees this minit 
an' how yees know I'm a doing it. As for me, my 
skull is that stupid for want of a brain, that I couldn't 
think anything out if I tried. It's hard making good 
plaster widout hair, my darlint; so, if yees'll drah 
the curthain, I'll just go to sleep at oncest.'' 

" Good-night to you, then," laughed my uncle, and 
dropped the curtain. 

" Who is the ventriloquist ? " was then demanded, 
but it was not discovered that evening which of us 
was the sinner. 

"Come down into the drawing-room with me, 
Marion," coaxed Aligre. " That Jlurphy has made 
me nervous. Our friends are so busily engaged, they 
will not miss us." 

But uncle did notice us slipping out and came to 
see if Aligre was not feeling as well as usual." 

"I am restless, that's all, dear doctor. I want 
Marion to play something ^ low and soft and ex- 
quisitely sad,' while I recline on a sofa and listen to 
her, and dream that there are angels and she is of 
them." 

" I suppose you must humor him, little girl, even 
when he is absurdly romantic. Take your powder 



THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET 263 

every hour, Aligre, and dream of angels if you will, 
but not of forbidden things." 

"You know what that means!" munnured my 
companion as we went down the stairs. " Your good 
uncle thinks it necessary to constantly remind me of 
my limitations." 

There was no one in the back drawing-ro<^m where 
the piano stood. We entered there ; one burner of 
the cliandelier only was lighted, but it was sufficient 
for me to read my notes by, and I placed a bound 
volume of Beethoven on the rack. Before sitting 
down to play, I looked about to see if Aligre was 
comfortably arranged, and saw him still standing, re- 
garding me with a wistful look so full of longing and 
sadness, that it drew me to him. 

" There is one thing I promise you, dearest Aligre,'' 
I said, my voice thiilling with the fulness of long- 
repi'cssed feeling which would be no longer re- 
strained: "your limitations shall he no more than 
mine. Since I cannot marry you, I will never 
marry. Should you go before I do, the remainder of 
my life will be but a waiting to join you. You must 
l<M)k for me and not forget me in that higher life.'' 

" Blessed Marion ! " 

" If you believed, as I do, in that life, you could 
afford to wait." 

" Ah, if it were only waiting — only happiness de- 



264 ^^BE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. 

layed ! Bat all is dark to me beyond what I have evi- 
dence of — the blackness of darkness! Xo, I shall 
not need you there, sweet, darling Marion ! Of me 
there will be nothing but ashes and a liandful of 
bones, while you are the blooming wife of some more 
fortunate man. I will not bind you to any snch 
promise. I should be shamefully selfeh if I did. I 
try not to envy Vervelde — I do not envy him — I am 
only more sad than I wish I was. Tour gold hair 
shall stream over his breast, your dark eyes shall 
laugh into his, your sweet hand shall press his cheek, 
for a few swift years, and then both of you will 
become what I became before you. Wliat does it 
matter? Play me something to make me forget 
myself." 

I was bitterly disappointed. It had seemed to me, 
in the saloon, that he was bi-eaking through the chry- 
salis of materialism. Perhaps Aligre even felt a secret 
contempt for my transcendentalism, as if I were too 
childish to comprehend his grounds for negativing 
it. Instead of being any way convinced, he had only 
humored me. This want of a kindred faith in the 
future of our love separated us even in this world. He 
degraded my ideal of true love. 

" Aligre ! " how mucli longer must I pray for you ?" 
1 cried, sharply. " You do not love me. You do not 
care for that which makes me, myself, absolutely. I 



/ 



THE SKELETON IN TEE CLOSET. 2G5 

believe that I am sorry that I have given you bo 
much. You may as well learn to do without me." 

" Do not leave me, Marion, Marion ! " he called, as 
if in terror. 

"Ah, AHgre, if you would call on God as you 
call on me, He would help you more than I can. 
Pray to Him, pray to Him, Aligre, 'help Thou my 
unbelief,' and He will answer." 

" Marion, I did not think you were so bigoted as 
to let our diflFerence in religious views come between 
you and m^." 

" It is not that — ^you should know it is not that. 
But to me there can be no real dignity in an existence 
bounded by this world — ^in a love that asks no more 
— in aspirations that reach no higher." 

" Marion, will you not sit down by me ? It is ter- 
rible to me to have you look and speak so — I have be- 
come so used to depending on you in my weakness, I 
cannot do without you." 

He held out a trembling hand, whose appeal I could 
not resist I di*ew a cliair close to the sofa. 

" You are allowing yourself to become agitated, 

Aligre. I too am to blame. Uncle Maxwell will be 

angry with me if he learns what I have been saying to 

you. Calm yourself, and try to rest, and I will 

promise to keep still." 

1 am afraid I sighed deeply as I resolved to relin- 
12 




9i$e THB SKELETON IS THE CLOSET. 

qniih mil attempts aft oooTersatioo oo the one eob- 
ject : at the same time I rac^Ted to pray tbe more 

aDXSOQSlT. 

Aligie laj and looked at me awhile in silencey his 
eves ghining between their long fringes with trocbled 
brigfatneea. At biet. although I placed m v finger on 
mT lips to restndn him, he said : 

^Yoa misunderstood me, Marion, if roa think 1 
lik't to beliere as I da As I told von when I fiist 
met TOO, such a view of life makes of our little hour 
an endurance instead of an aspiration. I face mv 
doom like a 5«jldier — that is alL If I felt as vou do, 
I would die this moment with joj. To feel as vou do 
I would give up all that is left of my voung life : — 
to me it is a strong argument that Christians them- 
selves are self -deceived as to the fixedness of their 
faith, when they feel it a trial to leave this world, and 
when thev mourn for friends who are called awav. 
We should all be eager for death, if we really be- 
lieved it the door through which we have only to pass 
in order to step into boundless life. Why, Marion, 
sweetest, you ought only to smile when they bring 
you, some morning, news that Aligre Lowell is 
dead." 



L 



CHAPTER XVII. 

WEDDING FINERY AND A MYSTERY. 

** Theresa no flaw on that fair, fine brow of hers. 
As fair and as proud as Laoifer*s. 
She looks in the glass as she tarns her head ; 
She knows that the rose on her cheek is red ; 
She knows how her dark ejes shine — their light 
Would scarcely be dimmed though I died to-night.** 

— Owen Meredith, 

^* A sadden, subtle flame, 
By veering passion fanned. 
About thee breaks and glanoes." 

— Tennyson, 




Uli skeleton behaved very strangely for some 

time afterwards, joining in the conversation 

y'Aisr held in his vicinity with all the fluency and 

assurance of his race. It was noticed that he only 

showed signs of life during the evening, and when 

thei*e was a number of persons present. 



r^m 



268 WBDDINQ FINEBT AND A MT8TBBT. 

He came to be known among ns as the hard-shell 
Evolutionist. An Evolutionist proper, with us, meant 
a believer in the development theory who admitted 
the necessity of a pre-primal Originator, who brought 
into existence the primal haze and peopled it with 
the germs which afterwards developed into the ever 
more complex forms of inorganic and organic phe- 
nomena. 

A hard-shell Evolutionist, per contrary, admitted 
no origin of the mysteries of matter and force in a 
reason preceding phenomena. 

Uncle Maxwell had never been a hard-shell. He 
acknowledged tliat the marvel of consciousness gave 
us a point of contact with the Infinite ; but that we 
lost it at death, and that it was then, in the nature of 
things, irrecoverable. Aligre thought with my uncle, 
so did Margaret and Harry. 

There was one common ground for all of us — ex- 
cepting Mr. Murphy : however we came, whatever 
we were, toward what we might be tending, it was 
certain that so long as we were organic beings, be- 
longing to the family of man, and to that small and 
highly favored portion of it dwelling in Fifth Ave- 
nue, we had such pressing pleasui^es and duties devolv- 
ing upon us from day to day, that we could give but 
a fraction of our time to the study of tlie puzzle 
whose key, however minutely searched for, will nevei 



WEDDINO FINERY AND A MT8TERT. 269 

be found in the realm of matter that compasses ns 
about and walls us in. 

Margaret and I were far, very far removed from 
the homely necessities of our remote ancestresses. 
We were not obliged to crack the bones of the wolf 
and cave-bear, and dig from thence with flint or fin- 
gers the marrow which was to be humbly laid, as a 
tid-bit wherewith to coax for our rights, before our 
tyrannical lords and masters. We did not dive for 
oysters, as the alternative tetween that and starvation ; 
nor even sew skins together with needles of bone, or 
heat stones for baking, or grind com in a hollow stone, 
or feel wretched because our neighbor squaw had 
found some red earth with which to decorate her 
countenance. 

Thebot was all that a French cook should be ; Tur- 
ner was a personage whose sole aim in life was to keep 
oiled all the delicate machinery of a complicated house- 
hold ; Florette took all the stitches ever taken in that 
brown-stone hut. But with a wedding-day approaching 
with cometary rapidity, we could not quite shake off 
its influences. The attacks of a neighboring tribe, 
in the days of cannibalism, were doubtless dreaded : 
we did not live in absolute freedom irom terror from 
the approaches of dress-makers, card-engravers, lin^ 
^er^^enlbroiderel•s, restaurateurs, upholsterers and a 
whole army of acquaintances who were not friends. 



270 WEDDING FINERY AND A MT8TEBT. 

It was with the rashness of ignorance that I had 
promised my uncle to give no more time to my posi- 
tion of chief-bridesmaid than to don my Parisian 
toilet when the hour for dressing for the ceremony 
arrived. There were to be three other bridesmaids ; 
and I mnst confess that the month of December was 
crowded full of consultations on the all-important 
subject, inspection of newly-arrived finery, and small 
preparations for the great event 

I kept up my studies uninterruptedly, however, 
until the fifteenth, when Nellie Arnold arrived from 
Boston, and I was voted a holiday until after New 
Year's day. 

The wedding was to be on the Thursday after 
Christmas, which fell on Tuesday. Doctor Ber- 
thelot had a suite of rooms at an up-town hotel 
He spent the most of his time at our house, where 
I learned, day by day, to like and respect him 
more and more. If there was any fault to be 
found with his manners, it was that they were almost 
too punctilious ; but they had a peculiar grave ele- 
gance and dignity that were impressive. He was the 
soul of honor; chivalric in his sentiments toward 
women ; and, with all his experience of life and 
strength of character, almost as trustful as a cliild. 
Since Margaret had accepted him, it did not once 
apparently cross his mind that she had done an nn- 



WEDDING FINERY AND A MT8TEBT. 271 

wise tiling, or that the esteem she gave him did not 
inehide the measure of her woman's heart Evidently, 
he was proud of her pride, and felt a deep respect 
for that reserve wliich prevented her from taking her 
friends into full communion, and which made him 
feel that even he was not yet well-acquainted with her. 
lie promised himself, doubtless, sweet companionship 
in the future, when, as his wife, her pure, cold nature 
would unfold beneath his eye, and he should see the 
heart of gold in the bosom of the lily. 

Most girls of twenty would have thought Doctor 
Berthelot too mature, even too learned, for them ; 
and so he would have been. But Margaret was no 
ordinary girl. In culture and natural talent she was 
superior to most young ladies, quite his equal in ap- 
prehension, and with that pride of caste which gave 
due weight to his fame as a scholar, and which holds 
culture far above any position purchasable with money. 

I never for an hour thought that my cousin loved 
Doctor Berthelot, as, for instance, I loved Aligre 
Lowell. But I hoped for the best — tliat love would 
grow, or .that affectionate esteem would so well coun- 
terfeit it that it would not be missed. It was a gay 
household which welcomed in Christmas on Christ- 
mas eve. The last consignment of bridal finery arriv- 
ed that afternoon — two large flat lead packing-cases, 
containing the bride's and bridesmaids' costumes. 



272 WEDDINO FINERY AND A MTSTEBT. 

All of those most interested were present ; formal 
callers were denied. It was declared that no room 
in the house was large enough for such a display as 
would follow the opening of the cases, except tlie 
saloon ; so they were taken in there, and, after the 
covers were loosened, the un-curious male portion of 
the party were requested to adjourn to the drawing- 
rooms below. Not a member of it was willing to go, 
despite their stout denial of any interest in the con- 
tents of the cases ; but they were in the minority, and 
we finally drove them out, by force, not of arms, but 
of the most withering allusions to the curiosity of the 
male sex. \ 

Sighs, ejaculations, little screams of rapture, broke 
fi'om the lungs of the most enthusiastic of us, as our 
toilets came into view, lovingly lifted from the boxes 
and bi\>ught out of their tissue-paper wrappings. 

Nellie was to be second bridesmaid ; the other two 
were the daughters of a neighbor — very pretty and 
graceful girls, with a taste for dress cultivated up to 
the aesthetic point. 

Bridal dresses are more or less alike ; Margaret's 
was of the customary white satin, point-lace and 
orange-blossoms. In the length of the train and the 
quality of the lace it exceeded most wedding-robes ; 
the texture and tint of the satin were " lovelv " — I 
borrow the term from the lips of the third bride&» 



WEDDING FINERY AND A MYSTERY. 273 

maid — and tho veil which accompanied the dress was 
of cobweb fineness. 

The soft bloom which came out in Margaret's 
cheeks, as she silently surveyed these suggestive arti- 
cles, was more beautiful to me than the priceless film 
of lace which her gay friends threw over her head. 

" She will be a superb bride," I thought ; " I should 
think Doctor Bertfielot would be almost afraid of 
such a dazzling creature. But if she blushes like that, 
he will have assurance that she is only the sweetest 
of mortals, after all." 

The four dresses for her assistants were alike — 
white tulle over white silk, with primrose sashes and 
corsage-bouquets of the same color — fairy dresses, 
they looked to me. 

I wished that Doctor Berthelot could see the un- 
wonted roses in my cousin's cheeks. I looked at her 
more than at the dresses, deeply interested in conjectur- 
ing the feelings of one so soon to be a bride. I saw 
that, as she laid the veil aside which the girls had mis- 
chievously thrown over her, she sighed, and the quick 
bloom faded as quickly. Li another moment I missed 
her. Half an hour later I found her by the western 
windows, lost in reverie, an open letter in her hand. 

The brief afternoon was over by this time — the sun 

set — the red in the west rapidly fading into dull gi'ay. 

I had no intention of intniding on my cousin when 1 
12^ 



f 



274: WEDDINQ FINEBT AND A MT8TBBT. 

wcut to that end of the long saloon ; I did not know 
she was there, until quite near her. Then 1 stopped 
suddenly — I am not certain bnt that I uttered an ex- 
clamation, for I was startled by the expression of her 
face, as she stared at the fading sky with frowning 
brow and set teeth, her face ashen gray, and her liand 
clinching the letter. It was such an unexpected thing 
to find the bride-to-be with such a look, that I was 
shocked, and thought certainly something dreadful 
had happened. 

"Is any one dead, Margaret?" I asked, beginning 
to tremble. Aligre had not yet come, and I suppose 
I thought of him. 

" Oh, no ! " she exclaimed, turning quickly, and 
thrusting the letter into her pocket as if she wanted 
no one to see it — ^" no 1 why do you ask, Marion ? " 

" I don't know ; I suppose because you were look- 
ing so^so pale." 

Margaret did not blush every day, and twenty 
times a day, as I did ; it was seldom that the clear 
paleness of her cheek changed, even to take on the 
pink, as when she saw her wedding-clothes ; but now 
she turned crimson from brow to neck witli a deep, 
painful blush that I could not endure to look at. 

I was thankful that a diversion occurred : tlie organ 
began to pour out into the twilight room the thrilling 
iiannonies of the Bridal March from Lohengrin. 



WEDDING FINEST AND A M78TBBT. 275 

Herr Halm was to play it during the ceremonies of 
tlie marriage, and he had come up into the saloon to 
rehearse it, to oblige the bridesmaids, who were amus- 
ing themselves practising the grand entry from the 
hall and march down the room, — for the wedding was 
to take place in the saloon and to be witnessed by only 
about fifty friends. The " dear five hundred " were 
to be received, at a later hour, in the drawing-room. 

" Come, Marion ! " " We want you. Miss Guthrie," 
— and I was drawn into my place in the rehearsal ; but 
Margaret would not take hers with Doctor Berthelot, 
as the attendants wished, breaking away from us and 
going to her room, where she remained until dinner, 
an hour later. 

Turner lighted a perfect blaze of wax-candles ; the 
young people were in a whirl of merriment ; Aligre 
arrived, and so did the Rev. Gi*ey Greydon, and two 
or three others asked to dinner. 

My heart was heavy, I could not myself have told 
why, except that I could not forget how Margaret had 
looked by the window, and that vague apprehensions 
that she was not going to be happy in her new life 
troubled me. 

Herr Halm continued at the organ, playing one 
lovely thing after another, wrapped np in his own 
music, oblivious of the gayety suiTOunding him. As 
Mr. Gray had Aligre caught in a long conversarion, I 



276 WEDDING FINBRT AND A MTSTEET. 

eat quietly near the gold-haired organist, mj mood of 
Badness increased, all my emotions exalted, by the 
soul-melting chords, the wonderful combinations that 
wrapped me in fire-fringed clouds of rolling gloiy 
and bore me up, tearful with divine rapture, until my 
feet touched the stars. Finally we were summoned 
to dinner, and he turned to me with a laugh : 

" The Fraulein will break her neck coming down 
from the seventh heaven to dinner." 

" I am already on the earth, and with a good appe- 
tite, Herr Halm. You improvise like a master. I 
was thinking of Browning's beautiful lines, put into 
the mouth of Abt Vogler : 

*^ *Bnt here is the finger of God, a flash of the wiU that can, 
Existent behind all laws, that made them, and lo, thej are I 
And I know not if, save in this, such a gift be allowed to man. 
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, bat a 
star. 
Consider it well : each tone of our scale in itself is naught : 
It is everywhere in the world, — loud, soft, and aU is said : 
Give it to me to use ! I mix it with two in mj thought; 
And these ? Ye have heard and seen : consider, and bow the 
head!'" 

" I never bow my head, except to escape contact 
with something harder," he rejoined, as he offered me 
his arm. 

I would not take it ; and he laughed at that, too. 



WEDDINO FINERY AND A MT8TERT. 277 

To me tliere was something absolutely repulsive in 
the man. At the organ, his face had glowed like 
some young RaphaeFs, — now it was almost stolid, 
with its heavy German features. 

Tome there has always been something incompre- 
hensible in the German mind, — " open as day to meltr 
ing impressions of music, flowers, poetry, art, fond of 
open-air impressions and childish enjoyments, yet the 
farthest possible removed from any child-like aspect, 
in its want of faith — hard, geometric, — a splendid 
mind, capable of any amount of work, but curiously 
lacking in some of the finer elements of the moral 
and the beautiful — whose representative was a Goethe 
as detestable as he was magnificent. 

1 don't think Ilerr Halm quite liked my refusing 
his arm, for he threw back a wicked look as I shrank 
to Mr. Lowell's side, in the hall, and shook his finger 
at me. 

" I shall write to some one in Paris," he said. 

I smiled defiantly, after the fashion of girls of my 
age. 

" Have you a correspondent in that city ? " Aligre 
asked, with affected innocence. 

" No ; but I think that I ought to look out for one." 

Looking over the stairway, where the young ladies 
appeared like doves and the gentlemen like ravens, 
as they fluttered gayly down, in white and blacky I felt 



I 

f 



r 



/ 



278 WEDDING FINEBY AND A MTSTEBT. 

relieved of au indefinable foreboding of coming evil, 
as I saw my cousin laughing brightly, as she turned 
her beautiful face to chat with Doctor BertheloL 

Indeed, she had come out of her rooms in dazzling 
spirits, and was the life of tlie little dinner-party. I 
wanted to give her a good hug before all the com- 
pany, I was so glad to see her, apparently, perfectly 
happy. I did not suspect that such wit and anima- 
tion might conceal coldness and weai-iness. 

Mr. Greydon sat at. my left at table, and took oc- 
casion to surprise me by informing me, confidentially, 
that this was his last visit to our house — " it might be 
for years and it might be forever"; he had passed 
through great trials and changes of purpose and be- 
lief — had seen the destruction of his hopes, earthly 
and heavenly — had nearly perished in the Slough of 
Despond — had been a wretched man all the summer 
and autumn. 

'' But lately, Miss Guthrie, there has been a retrac- 
ing of my steps. I have tried everything and found 
it wanting, except the religion of Jesus Christ. I 
find in Christianity but the completion of the process 
of evolution — the return of Man 'to God at last 
This solution of the problem satisfies my heart and 
soul as well as my reason. But I am suflFering now 
the consequences of my mistake, when I threw away 
my position and my iuflvieivce in this city, where, for 



WEDDING FINERY AND A MT8TERT. 279 

a young man, I stood higher than I deserved. I see 
but one way open for me to atone for my error, and 
that is to humble myself to do the lowest work Christ 
has for me to do. I have resolved to go West, into 
some heathenish settlement, where the people are 
poor and ignorant, and there ' pitch my tent.' My 
pride is completely broken ; my ambition is now to 
do real missionary service." 

" It will be a great change for you, Mr. Greydon, 
— a sad one, I fear." 

" Not sad, in one sense. I feel anxious to be pun- 
ished a little, I deserve it. If I find that I can do good 
work I shall try to be satisfied. My mother approves 
my plan, and goes with me, so that I shall probably 
have a little home, wherever I am, even if only a log 
cabin in a cornfield on a prairie." 

My face must have betrayed some compassion, for 
he added: "Do not pity me: it is better than I 
deserve. The costliest rectory, under the shadow of 
the finest church in this city, could be no home to me 
noi/7," and he glanced toward my cousin. 

"However weak and vacillating I may have ap- 
peared, I was in solemn earnest then. I leave town 
to-morrow afternoon, after the morning service, for 
Chicago. From that point, I shall strike out to find 
my work, and shall persevere until I do find it. I do 
not want to be in town on Thursday, — it would un- 



280 WEDDING FINERY AND A MTSTBBT. 

man me, I know, to be bo near her at that time. 
Otherwise, I should have liked to be the one to many 
her. But I am not brave enough for that. I believe, 
indeed, I never shall be a hero,'* smiling sadlj, — "the 
stuff out of which heroes are made is not in me." 

" Perhaps that out of which martyrs are made, is, 
Mr. Greydon. After some mistakes, you may find 
that your life, after all, will be a success. You have 
my most earnest wishes for your welfare." 

I recalled the impression he had made on me dur- 
ing that journey in the cars, and how my hero had 
failed of being very heroic ; and I hoped that, at last, 
he was going to redeem himself. There must cer- 
tainly be some courage and depth of religious 
conviction, since he was willing to sacritioe liimself to 
uncongenial associations and a life of hardship. To 
work amid tlie dull and vicious of some Missouri 
village, or some mining settlement, would certainly 
be a change from his life here ; and I looked about 
on the refined faces whei-e intelligence had added 
the last lustre to beauty. Nellie's dark eyes were 
flashing messages into Harry's happy ones; Aunt 
Maxwcill, splendidly dressed, and l(X)king, in the 
glow of excitement, almost as youthful as her chU- 
dren, presided with graceful ease over tlie table, 
which was always beautifully laid, and sweet with 
flowei-s, and was now very elegantly adorned. Doctcu* 



WEDDING FINERY AND A MT8TEBT. 281 

Berthelot talked with my uncle — whose keen eyes 
sparkled with the intense life which characterized 
him — and looked 2^, Margaret, blooming under his eye, 
gayer and more charming every moment. 

It would, indeed, be a change to poor Mr. Greydon ! 
I admired him, now that he appeared capable of really 
deciding something for himself ; and I pitied him, to 
think it should have been his destiny to love my 
cousin. Thinking of tiiis, I noticed Margaret the 
more closely. 

It was unlike her to be so very gay ! 

But then — ^would I be gay, if I were to be married 
in three days ? I did not know ; but thought I should 
7wt, My glance again roved around the table, taking 
in the bright faces, even the complacent ones of the 
servants who waited. There were two men present, 
beside Turner, who gave them their orders and dic- 
tated about the wines. 

It happened, as I glanced around, that I noticed 
him particularly, because he was looking very steadily 
at Miss Maxwell with a look which I thought unbe- 
coming to one in his position. I had never kno^vii of 
Turner's being otherwise than deferential to any 
member of the family. 

Pretty soon my cousin was drawn to look up in an- 
swer to his steady gaze, and then he immediately half 
withdrew a note from his pocket and slipped it back. 



282 WEDDING FINEBT AND A M78TEBT. 

and Bhe slightly nodded. Again the blood flamed in 
her fair face for an instant — cwiee, in one day, she had 
blushed in that unaccountable way. I blushed from 
sympathy, I am sure, and turned my eyes away. I 
had no right to read her secrets, if she had any. 




L 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

C1IBI6TMAS CiriMES. 

*^ Upon my brow and bosom 
Let holy lilies lie, 
By the child Jesus gathered 
In radiant infancy." 

— JuUa Ward Howe, 



** I muse on joys that will not cease, 
Pure spaces clothed in living beams, 
Pure lilies of eternal peace, 
Whose odors haunt my dreams.** 

— Ttnnywn. 



S^ 



OME of the company remained in the draw- 
ing-rooms after dinner, which was not over 
i' until nine o'clock, but the most of us found 
way back to the saloon where it was our intention 
irait the advent of Christmas Day. There was no 
vision for a Yule-log in our " ancestral hall ; " but 
were extravagant in candles, to make up for the 



284 CHRISTMAS CHIMES, 

absence of the blazing hearth ; and we resolved to 
imitate as well as might be the spirit of old-time 
Christmas festivities, by plenty of old-time games. 
The sweet eyes of pictured beauties smiled down on 
us from under evergreen wreaths; a few stem 
cavaliers, just home from Holy Land, frowned on the 
lightness of our fashion of rejoicing; statues of god- 
desses and saints, glowing in the soft light of the wax- 
candles, white as virtue's self, with closed lids seemed 
to wish to avoid looking on our modern trifling. 

Nellie Arnold's counterpart laughed from an easel 
where Harry had quite successfully painted her por- 
trait. A Daimio armor-box of gold and black lac- 
quer work, which my uncle had just added to his 
collection of curiosities, stood on a Japanese stand 
under one of the chtodeliei-s. To play blind man's- 
buff in such a world of hrio-drirac was a serious 
affair ; but we did it, without accident, except that 
once Margaret clasped Mr. Murphy, instead of Harry, 
of whom she was in chase, whereupon the skeleton 
shouted out : 

" It's my turn, now, to be blindfolded ! Fax, won't 
1 enjoy a good, fair frolic oncest more ! Blindfold 
me, ladies an' gintlemen, as tight as iver yees please, 
I'll have ivery one of yees, afore the little game is 
over. None of yees can escape me! Give me the 
liandkerchief." 



CHRISTMAS CHIMES. 285 

" Dear Uncle," I coaxed — ^he was standing heside 
me — " do have that hideous creature removed from 
the saloon. He makes us all nervous." 

" I'll drop the curtain, — that's all I'll promise 
to do. There ! now we all know he is there, 
but the knowledge does not affect us as if we saw 
him," and he drew down the long folds of green 
silk. " Those Egyptians were wise in their day, 
Marion." 

" Yees have chated^me out of the fun ; an' faith ! 
I need exercise badly," grumbled Murphy, from be- 
hind his curtain. 

SovLQ of us were yet quite certain who our ven- 
triloquist was. I had decided that it was either 
Harry or Herr Halm. 

Margaret, though not in the least superstitious, was 
somewhat affected by her mistake, and, taking the 
handkerchief from her eyes, witlidrcw from the play. 
Herr Ilalm went to her, whei'e she was sitting on a 
divan, and I could see him gesticulate, after the man- 
ner of his countrymen, as he talked with great ani- 
mation. 

At first she listened and answered ; then she hardly 
appeared conscious of his presence, but sank into 
a gloomy reverie, until finally he shrugged his 
shoulders, got up and left her. Then Doctor 
Berthelot took his place, and Margaret made an 



286 0ERISTMA8 CHIMES. 

effort to arouse herself, turning such heavy, heavy 
eyes on him that 1 wondered what he would think 
of her. 

" You are worn out with all this excitement," I 
heard him say, after a while. " Why not slip away 
and go to your rest? Your cousin will fill your place 
as hostess. You look really ill, and you were so bright 
at dinner that I could not keep my eyes from your 
face ! " 

" I don't think I am very tired. Here comes Tur- 
ner with coffee. I will take a cup, and see Christmas 
in, with the rest of you." 

" Sleep will do you more good than any stimulus," 
urged the lover ; but Margaret persisted in having 
coffee and continuing to sit up. 

It was about eleven when the cups were passed 
around. I had never been really, thoroughly gay 
since I knew Aligre Lowell. I had been happy, ex- 
quisitely happy, at some rare intervals ; but the 
shadow of his impending fate lay too solemnly on me 
to allow me to be as merry as of old. There had 
been houi^s of hope, for we were so young to despair 
of earthly enjoyment, and Aligre was sometimes so 
well that his buoyant temperament bubbled over in 
rainbows. Even Uncle Maxwell had admitted to me 
the possibility of his living several, aye, many years. 
But the shadow of Sudden Death always hovered on 



CHRISTMAS CEIMEB. 287 

the borders of our prospect, if it did not lie chill on 
our very feet. 

I certainly did not feel disposed to tlie merry-mak- 
ing of that evening, though I had carried on my part 
with seeming spirit. I would have preferred joining 
in the ceremonies of some church, but dinner had 
been so late as to prevent that. I resolved not to be 
cheated out of one hour of reflection and aspiration 
in which I nn'ght bring my thoughts to a suitable 
contemplation of the rich and full meaning of Christ- 
mas and its festival. Stealing to a window, I slipped 
behind the heavy silk hangings, and was shut out into 
a quiet world of moonlight and silence. The street 
was deserted, and washed white in a flood of silver 
light. The spire of a neighboring church stood out 
clear against a purple sky. I looked up at the illu- 
minated heaven and said over, softly, to myself, the 
lines of Milton's Hymn. I thought of Drowsydell 
lying frostily in the sparkling night, wishing I were 
there on the piazza, looking abroad over the wide 
land and up to the solemn mountains, and listening 
for the 

*^ Winds with wonder whist. ^* 

Ilerr Halm began to play Christmas anthems on 
the organ, very beautifully ; the music, glad with an 
awful triumph, swelled and rolled about me ; I thought 
of my father and mother, wondering if, indeed, they 



388 CHRISTMAS CHIMBS, 

were enjoying a life of which this was but the symbol 
and vague prophecy, and soon became utterly lost to 
my surroundings, until I was brought back by the 
touch of Aligre's hand. 

He whispered that he had been standing by me for 
isome time, and that the moonlight reminded him of 
Drowsydell. 

" 1 wish you and I were there now, well wrapped 
up from the cold, and sitting on the piazza. It woald 
be a sweet way of welcoming in the birthday of your 
Christ." 

" Say of OUT Christ, Aligre." 

" Well, of Jesus, who called himself the Son of 
God, and who laid down some very strict rules of 
morality, — too strict for poor human nature. The 
civilized world has pretended to try to live up to Hifl 
requirements, but has signally failed. How many 
preachers are there, how many churches, individa- 
ally or corporately, that will give their poor brother 
their second coat, and tell the rich man that he has 
no chance of getting into heaven? It is nearly nine- 
teen hundred years since Christ set us an example, 
yet you may walk through the most crowded part of 
this city, from morning till night, without meeting 
one man or woman who literally fulfils the bidding 
of his Master. He would be rated as insane if he 
attempted it" 



/ 



CHRISTMAS CHIMES 289 

"I acknowledge that the churcheB are far too 
worldly, Aligre." 

He laughed. " Worldly 1 they are the concrete of 
worldlinees. They treat Lazaras quite after the fashion 
of Dives. I often ask myself if it was intended that 
we should live above human nature. The ox is an ox, 
the tiger a tiger ; they never rise above their natures 
— why should we expect Man to be more than Man t 
— to be an angel or a god, for instance. Many of our 
mistakes are like those of Simeon, who thought it a 
glory to live on a pillar. Had Nature designed him 
to crown a column, he would have been bom with one 
leg, for a pedestal, and an umbrella growing out 
of the top of his head, for Nature makes no mis- 
takes." 

"We expect Man *to be more than Man,' be- 
cause he has some attributes that link him to a 
life beyond this, and to God Himself. If he had 
only a mind and a body — ^no faculties allying 
him to something above and beyond Nature, no 
consciousness of a need and a hope unsupplied by 
Mother Nature— he might not be called upon to 
struggle with and conquer the lower attributes of 
his being, selfishness, meanness, sensuousness, ra- 
pacity. All might remain as in our early history, 
when ^ might made right,' and man was more of a 

tiger than a god. 
13 



290 CHRISTMAS CHIMES, 

** * Poor vaunt of life indeed, 

Were man but formed to feed 
On joy, to Bolelj seek and find and feast : 

Such feasting ended, then 

As sure an end to men; 
Irks care the crop-full bird ? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast ? 

'' *■ Rejoice, we are allied 

To That which doth provide 
And not partake, effect and not receive 1 

A spark disturbs our dod ; 

Nearer we hold of €K)d 
Who gives, than of His tribes who take, I must beUeve.* ** 

" There is nothing puzzles me more, Aligre, than 
the resistance men make to tlieir own consciousnees of 
God and immortality. One would think they deemed 
it an insult to their intelligence to be told they can- 
not unravel the Great Mystery by denying its exist- 
ence. Keymond says, * We shall never know any 
better than we now do the spectre that haunts the 
world of matter.' Let us be humble, and acknowl- 
edge that there is * a spectre,' or soul, but also aspir- 
ing, that we may look forward to sometime coming 
into knowledge of it." 

Just then, out on the pure moonlight, stole the 
melody of a chime of bells from the steeple which 
we saw outlined against the silver night: golden 
tongues from many another airy tower replied. I sank 
on my knees, with face uplifted to the moon-flooded 



OHBISTMAJS CHIMES. 291 

heavens. Tlie Boand of the midnight bells called 
np the associations of my childhood, and along with 
the great desire to be again with my father and mother 
was mingled a love for the man by my side, like that 
of a mother for a child whom she takes in her arms 
and holds up to the priest for his blessing. I seemed 
to hold Aligre in the arms of my faith up to the touch 
of God, from whom, like an obstinate and ignorant 
child, he was turning wilful eyes. 

" Help Thou his unbelief," were all the words I 
said. So intense was the mood of my prayei* that all 
consciousness of things immediately about me dis- 
appeared. I was blessed with a swift and passing 
vision of the Immortality of the Soul. There was no 
past and no future — all was Now, as it is with Grod. 
Everything that had been, or would be. Was. The 
Creator attended on His universes. Time served 
the Timeless. I saw when this universe of ours was 
begun, and how God fed it with the star-dust which 
he had elaborated in a vast laboratory where the ele- 
mentary matter was composed and poured out into 
the store houses of Space for worlds to grow upon. 
Other universes had been and would be, and conse- 
quently, were. I stood outside of Time and Space, 
and saw matter at work, obeying its Master. And 
that Master was not merely a Mechanic but an Artist, 
who painted his Creations in light and shade and took 



292 CHRISTMAS CBIMS8, 

conscions pleasure in the love of the Beaatif ol. He 
was an Intelligence, working not blindly but with 
purpose : Who coald not be satisfied with the forms of 
matter, inert and dead, and so He ^ breathed the breath 
of life " into them : and to some orders of things He 
gave consciousness, that He might not be alone in Hi8 
pleasure, but have creatures to praise His work and 
perceive its magnificence ; — creatures who, actually, 
were made in His image, insomuch as they possessed 
His attributes which He gave them. The King must 
have his subjects : the lover mnst have conscious love 
in return. All that was would be as if it were not 
did not the Maker share His consciousness with these 
beings, who see with His eyes and hear with His ears 
and have power to say, " I exist," " this is beautiful," 
*^ that is ugly," '' I love," " I hate," " this is wrong,'' 
" that is right" 

I saw that this consciousness was indestructible as 
its source ; that the dying brain lost its hold upon it, 
but that it escaped into its own higher element, where 
it sported forever with the flowers of star-systems un- 
folding, blossoming and dropping to decay, their dis- 
organized elements reforming in new clusten of more 
marvellous beauty to be admired afresh by this soul 
of ours which alone comprehends law, conscience and 
love. I exulted in this inheritance from the Father, 
pouring out my heart in gratitude, and clinging to 



/ 



0HBI8TMA8 OHIMES. 293 

Him like a babe who is afraid of being put awaj. He 
alone would have had any preception of the glories 
he had created, had he not shared with us the divine 
spark of life, which is neither matter nor force, but 
the consciousness of them. Nor could He be satis- 
fied that all should be dark and void except to Him- 
self : nor is He above sympathy and the sweetness of 
love and reverence. That he has placed our reason 
here within inexorable limits — unable to imagine tlie 
unimaginable, to know the unknowable, to solve the 
riddle of its own existence, argues for a larger lib- 
erty hereafter ; for, would the bird beat its wings 
against the face of its cage, were there no outer world 
which it instinctively longed to explore ? That we 
crave to solve the riddle, that we spend lifetimes in 
search of the key, proves that the door will some- 
time be opened to us. As in protoplasm is the 
promise and possibility of Man, so in Man is the 
promise and possibility — more, the inevitable devel- 
opment of what we understand by the term Angel. 

All these thoughts flamed about me like some sun- 
set vision, when, in the west, the golden gates look as 
if opening directly into heaven. Such moods must be 
in their nature, passing, like these sunset glories ; in a 
few minutes the splendor faded, and I saw only the 
cold, sweet moonlight and the church-spire glimmer- 
ing against the sky. Aligre was on his knees beside 



\ 



294: CHRISTMAS CHIMES. 

me. As he said afterwards, he would have been lack- 
ing in reverence not to have knelt with me, and there 
had been a look in my face which drew him down. 
We had barely risen to onr feet when we heard 
Nellie's gay voice — 

" Wliere have those two gone ? They shall be fined 
for selfishness." 

Then Harry drew away the curtain, and both 
laughed merrily : 

" Two moon-struck creatures ! " he commented. 

" We were listening to the bells," returned Aligre. 

" We are going to have a Christmas Tree," cried 
Nellie, " did you know it, Marion ? " 

" No, indeed." 

^^ It has walked into the saloon on wheels and is to 
be lighted immediately. Turner asks us all to shut 
our eyes for five minutes." 

" You will be sure to peep, Nellie," said Harry. 

" No, I will not, Mr. Blue-beard. It is men who 
do the peeping." 

The people in the room came down to where we 
stood, and we gravely turned our backs while Uncle 
Maxwell, Doctor Berthelot and Turner lighted the 
great number of little wax tapera on the fairy tree. 

Doctor Berthelot's two little girls were at our house 
to spend Christmas and remain until after the wed< 
ding. It was for them that my uncle, after due oon« 



CHRISTMAS CHIMBS. 296 

• 

Bnltation with their father, had prepared the Riirprise 
of a tree. They had been very happy durmg the 
evening at being allowed to remain up and share our 
games, and were now as wide awake as ever, their 
cheeks red and eyes blazing with excitement, scarcely 
able to keep their mischievous glances from stealing 
in tlie forbidden direction. 

" Voila / " cried Uncle, at last, clapping his 
hands. 

The children whirled about, and, with little cries 
of rapture, ran toward the beautiful tree, that 
flowered into lights of every color, and glittered 
with wonderful things too many to be individualized 
at the fii-st glance. Their father had been lavish of 
such presents as were suitable to their age — costly 
bon-bon boxes in profusion, lockets, fairy-books, 
fashionable dolls with miniature trunks full of cos- 
tumes, and two lovely little dresses for the demoi- 
selles to wear on Thursday. 

We found that " the children of a larger growth " 
had been remembered also. There were some of 
the finest family diamonds reset for the occasion, 
and presented to the bride-elect from her mother ; 
with an exquisite set of pearls from Doctor Berthe- 
lot, and a check from her father for a handsome 
sum of money. I had more than my share of de- 
lightful things. Harry had been warned of the 



296 CHBISTMAS OHIMB8. 

tree, and his gifts to Nellie were nestling in its 
branches. 

^' nillo 1 " cried Mr. Mnrphy, in a smothered 
voice from behind his curtain, ^^ am I to stand here 
wid mc tlnimbs in me month an' git nothin' 2 Sore, 
me taath are as sound as iver they wur, barrin' me 
jaws is a bit stifiF, an' a swate tooth Molly McGrig- 
gan used to accuse me of having. Och ! what would 
I not give for the use o' me tongue an' me palate for 
half an hour I Look close, will yees, an' see if 
mcbbe there's a package inscribed wid the super- 
scription o' Murphy. Not one i Tliat's the way a 
man's frinds remimber him afther he's forgotten. 
* Out o' sight, out o' mind.' There's niver a mimory 
made that would stretch out a year. Whin a man 
dies its all groanin' an' screechin' fur a little while : 
— * Och hone I I can't live without him a minute. 
Ow ! bring me the wash-basin, darlint, to catch me 
tears. Me heart is broke. He was such a good b^y, 
was Murphy — such an iligant b'y — an' now I'm 
alone — all alo-hone. Have the coffin made big 
enough for the two of us, fur sure I'll be dead by 
to-morry. Food I'll niver taste agin, the smell ov 
the whiskey goes agin me. Och, take it away I to 
think me poor b'y liked the taste of a drop, it breaks 
mo heart. Take it away — an' oh, bring it back, an' 
I'll just take a wee bit, wid water, to remind me ov 



L 



CHBISTMAS CHIMES. 297 

him. He was a good man, Marphy was. But 
we've all got to go some time, Mr. McGuire. If 1 
was'iit that lonesome, I might make shift to stand it ; 
but to be left all alone, widout a man in the house 
to hate the tajkittle far me an' to tell me how many 
lumps to put in, it's that makes me cry, and not that 
I care so much about Murphy, poor lad, who's took 
away by the Lord, an' had his little faults like other 
men.' — That's the way it goes, an' no matter. When 
a man's once snugly boarded up it does'nt ann'y him 
to have a frindly neighbor come in to conschole his 
wife. lie's that asy in his mind small matters don't 
make him want to sit up or turn over. He's worse 
than an opium ater, he is. He's like the old codger 
whose motto was * lem me alone.' " 

" But here's something for somebody," I said, 
when nearly everything had been examined and ap- 
propriated. 

It was only a little bunch of faded pansies and rose- 
buds tied with a bit of violet-colored ribbon. A scrap 
of paper attached to it had written on it — Margaret. 

" It is for you," I said, wonderingly, in a whisper, 
to my cousin, who chanced to be near me, and who 
discovered the strange gift on the fairy tree at the 
same instant I did. 

She snatched at the withered flowers placed there 
ia the midst of jewels and costly gifts. 



298 



CHRISTMAS CEIMMS. 



^^ Do not call attention to this, Marion," she 
pleaded, and hid it in her bosom. 

Tamer was busy about the tree attending the 
tapers ; I looked at him involuntarily, just in time 
to see that he had been watching us with a guardcni 
look. I had no opportunity for further observation, 
Uncle just then saying: 

" Put all this jewelry in the safe, girls, and scud 
to your nx)ms. It is one o'clock, and you must not 
quite wear yourselves out" 




-%d»-— 




CHAPTER XIX. 
A quben's oapbiob. 

'* The next daj wore and thereto followed zughtb** 



'^ So, when it came to pais 
That in no chamber of that house of gold 
Might anj one the Lycian'a face behold, 
Nor any sign of her, then therewithal 
To others of the household did they call. 
And asked if they had tidings of the Queen." 

— Wiiiiam Morris, 




oj|IIEISTMAS was one of my happy days. 
My aunt told me, at breakfast, a pitiful 
story of a lady who, three yeai'S previously, 
was the young and fortunate wife of a literary gen- 
tleman who earned a comfortable income as one of 
the editors of a journal and as a writer of sketches 
and poems. 

The health of this gentleman had failed ; he had 
gone to Cuba in hopes of restoring it, and had died 



/ 



300 ^ QUEEN' 8 OAPBICB. 

there, after an expensive illness which had devoured 
the last dollar of his small sayings. 

The lady was now a widow, with two small chil- 
dren, and no relatives able or willing to support the 
three. She was bright, pretty, tolerably well edu- 
cated, but what could she do to earn a living for her- 
self and two little ones, still so small as to require 
her constant attention ? She had not fitted herself 
to do anything superlatively well, her children were 
a bar to her taking a situation as teacher or gover- 
ness ; the sewing machine would be a miserable re- 
source for one so delicate, with two others depending 
on her. 

" A relative of hers," added my aunt, " living in 
a village up the river, thinks there is an opening 

there for a fancy and pattern store. Mrs. W , if 

she had a few hundred dollars capital, thinks she 
would venture to open such a store, and believes 
she has business talent and energy sufficient to make 
it a success. Such a business could be easier, for 
her, than teaching, and she could have her little 
ones with her. Her address, Marion, is 3 — Sixth 
Avenue, where she has a room, and is vainly trying 
to pay the rent by making up lingerie for the shops." 

Of conrse, I understood that Aunt Maxwell would 
approve the measure, should I see fit to make 9i pro- 
tegee of this lady. I was glad that my aunt had ae- 



A QUEEN'8 CAPRICE. 301 

lected the person to whom my idle money would be 
the most usefal, for my own judgment in such mat- 
ters would neccessarily be immature. 

Breakfast was late, after our Christmas Eve watch. 
I left the table long before the others, made a hur- 
ried toilet, and started out in time to reach the 
nnmber on Sixth Avenue, make a call, and return 
to the church in our neighborhood for the beautiful 
service of the day. I was charmed with the poor 
little lady, clad in deep black, who had nothing 
bright in her barren room but the gold heads and 
sparkling eyes of her innocent little ones. The love 
which I felt for my Aligre gave me the intensest 
sympathy for one who had lost her heart's darling 
for many dreary years, it might be. 

I sat and talked with her as long as I could with- 
out losing the morning service, and I gave her a few 
verses I had cut from a newspaper — sweet, consola- 
tory verses, beginning — 

*' WeU blest is he who has a dear one dead, 
A friend he has, whose face will never change.** 

The clieck for five hundred dollars which I left 
with her was a free gift, unembarrassed by any de- 
mand on her gratitude, or any orders as to the 
manner in which she should dispose of it 

She made the children kiss me, and I kissed her 



\ 



Mbd^ 



302 ^ QUEEN'S CAPSIOB, 

and went away. I could not have had snch a sam 
at my disposal had it not been for Aunt Maxwell's 
generosity to me — who had supplied all my wants 
since 1 came into her house — ^and so I told her, ou 
my return from church ; and I do not think she was 
displeased with the warm embrace which accompan- 
ied my statement. 

Aligre came in after luncheon ; and we had a nook 
in the saloon all to ourselves for the remainder of the 
afternoon. Nellie and Hirry were absorbed in each 
other ; Margaret and Doctor Berthelot were in the 
back drawing-room; his children were with my 
uncle in the library; the bridesmaids remained at 
home attending to their own interests. 

So Aligre and I had a long, long talk — ^interrupted 
by many intervals of sweetest silence when we talked 
only with our eyes. Except on the one subject of 
our future life, our sympathy was perfect,— only to 
be near each other was eloquence itself. 

We never spoke of marriage ; we never mentioned 
Reginald Vervelde's name: ours was a precarious joy, 
the deeper that we knew it could never hope for its 
earthly consummation. 

It was not Vervelde who loomed up in the path of 
our future, but a darker, more appalling shape — that 
lurking death, hidden in the roses, with poised lancOp 
waiting to strike. 



1 



A QUEEN '8 CAPRICE. 303 

Oar young eyes were always half-tamed to watch 
for him — our young hearts only half-beat with a 
dread apprehension — ^j^et we had our moments and 
hours of bliss, all the more exquisite because so un- 
certain. This Christmas afternoon was one of those 
intervals of happiness. And at the magic hour be- 
tween sunset and night, we deserted our corner and 
walked up and down the saloon with those slow steps 
which befitted Aligi-e's condition. For a wild, half- 
mad, wholly-sweet half hour, I wished tliat this life 
was all thqre was for us, and that it might last for 
a century of such hours as these. I was ready to sell 
my birthright for a mess of pottage — to barter the 
inconceivable eternities for a hundred years of earth- 
mildewed bliss. 

I looked up, through the rosy twilight, longingly 
into the glorious eyes that were fixed on my face 
with such a clinging tenacity, as if they must have 
ray very soul, and would not be refused. 

There was then something terrible in our love and 
its circumstances. I heard Nellie's careless laugh in 
another part of the room. 

Did I envy her and Harry ? I am afraid so. 

The tears brimmed over and rolled, one after 
another, down my cheeks. We neared a window, 
and Aligre saw them a red streak shot into his fore- 
head, he turned and clasped me tight, and I felt 



804 ^ QUEEN'S CAPRICE 

that poor heart of his begin to palpitate ; the weak- 
ness of my mood was doing him an injniyl I 
brushed away my tears and smiled np at him as if I 
had never a care or a regret 

^^ How fortunate we have been to have had three 
hoars to ourselves," I said, lightly. "Do you re- 
member, Aligre, that my cousin Mai^garet will be 
leaving me day after to-morrow?" 

" Is that the source of your tears ! " he asked, a 
little vexed, and we resumed our promenade. 

" One cannot alway tell what one is crving about — 

** *• Tears, idle tears, I know not what ye mean' ^ — 

"but that is as good a reason as any, I dare say. 
And truly, Aligre, I shall be lonely enough without 
Margaret." 

Just then we came opposite the niche of the skele- 
ton; a mysterious whisper came from behind the 
curtain : 

" Miss Marion, whist now, me darlint, Pve some- 
thin' to tell yees." 

" What is it, Mr. Murphy ? " I asked, recoiling as 
usual, for I never could become reconciled to Mr. 
Murphy, or his impertinence in intruding into our 
conversations. 

" Does you an' him promise to kape it a profound 
sacrct ? " 



A QUEEN'S CAPBJCE. 305 

" Oh, certainly." 

^^ I'm a getting as thin as a lath with tribcQation, 
mavoumeen." 

*' We are sorry for you, Mj", Murphy." 

^ When the snakes left ould Ireland they swum 
over to Ameriky. There's one or 'em roaming about 
loose in this house," solemnly. * 

I felt inclined to juipp up on a chair, for I thought 
Murphy meant that a serpent was at liberty in the 
saloon — such a thing not being impossible, as Uncle 
Maxwell not infrequently brought live specimens 
into the house for purposes of his own. 

The skeleton chuckled : 

^' It's a two-legged snake, like the one that made 
the acquaintance of Mother Ave. But, f ath, that's 
not all. Somethin' onexpected that isn't looked fur 
is going to happen." 

" But whut^ good Mr. Murphy I You ought to give 
the particulars." 

^^Fax! and be named a busybuddy, that havn't 
been in a neighbor's house for years 1 Not I. I'm 
designin' to let things sphake fur theirselves. I'm 
just givin' yees a bit word o' warning. 

^^ A warning that does not tell where the danger 
lies is of no use," added Aligre, humoring the fantas- 
tic freaks of Mr. Skeleton. 

I peered about, thix)ugh the twilight, in every 



306 ^ QUEEN'S CAPRICE. 

direction, but did not discover the ventriloquist. 1 
recalled some of the strange impressions which had 
been made on my mind the previous day by Marga- 
ret's looks and conduct, and I wondered if it were 
possible that the unknown speaker referred to her 
or the man Turner. 

The next moment I dismissed such an idea as 
absurd. 

^' If the Oracle must sphake right out like a com- 
mon man, instead o& in a parable, whist, now, I'll 
tell you the plain truth in so many words : I dramed 
three nights hand-runnin' of a funeral, so there's sure 
to be a wedding within eight-and-forty hours." 

" Bat that is no secret, Sir Oracle." 

"But och, darlint, j^e doesn't understand. The 
bride was dressed in black from head to f ut." 

I caught Aligre's arm, and, like the foolish, nervous 
girl I was, began to tremble. 

" There'll be a wedding, all the same, now, yees 
remember me pi'ediction. There'll be a wedding all 
the same, and something that isn't looked for will 
occur." 

'* Tliank you, Mr. Murphy, for making me comfort- 
able," I said. 

" If you are uncomfortable, mavoureen, don^t be 
laying the blame on my shoulders. Sure, I've noth- 
ing to do with it at all, at all. / didn't make the 



A qUEEN'8 CAPRICE, 307 

world, thank goodness ! I never could quite make up 
my mind as. to the amount of moral responsibility I 
ought to lug around wid me, along wid me hod 
when I was alive an' kickin'; now tliat I have 
sliovelied off this mortal coil, as Shakespeare has it, 
I've dropped me I'esponsibility along wid it, and am 
just as innocent as a babe. Don't be scolding poor 
Murphy, because accidents will happen in the best 
regulated families. It's not lucky to quarrel on 
Christmas Day. Go on wid your promenade, my 
dears, an' I'll take another nap, wid one eye 
open." 

Just then a servant came in and lighted one of 
the chandeliers. Herr Helm had arrived in time for 
dinner, as usual, and was feeling his way to the 
organ when the lights were set burning. 

Aligre was inclined to ridicule my credulity, be- 
cause he saw that I was disturbed by the meaning- 
less gabble of Mr. Murphy. 

It was only because tliat gabble chimed with some 
formless apprehensions in my own mind that they 
made any impression on me. 

The Christmas banquet began at six and lasted 
until nine. Perhaps ray relatives enjoyed it the 
more thoroughly from a consciousness that many 
poor widows and orphans were feasting at their ex 
pense. 



808 ^ qUBBN'B CAPRICE. 

Undo and aunt looked very happy and contented; 
their eyee often tamed with fond admiration to their 
only daughter, so soon to marry a man in every way 
acceptable to them. I, too, looked often and ear- 
nestly at my beautiful cousin ; if she was quiet and 
pale my spirits sank — if she blushed, smiled and 
chatted gayly with her lover, I, too, grew gay and 
talkative. 

We assembled in the drawing-room after dinner ; 
there were a few calls ; Margaret and I sang a duet ; 
Herr Halm sang several solo pieces in his grand 
style ; Aligre went away at ten o'clock, and at eleven 
it was moved and carried tliat we retire early to for- 
tify ourselves for the swiftly approaching trial. 

But one day now intervened between this and the 
wedding-day. I expected that Margaret would lin- 
ger behind for a last few sweet good-night words 
with Doctor Berthelot, but she went up-stairs when I 
did. I kissed her good night very affectionately, 
half-hoping she would remain in my room a little 
while and give me a little of that girlish confidence 
natural to the occasion. She .was reticent by nature ; 
yet I thought it possible she might wish to share her 
feelings with one so near her own age, and so roman- 
tic, as she had often rallied me on being. No I not 
a word. She seemed in a hurry to escape my eyes, 
hiding herself in her own room as soon as possible. 



A QUEEN'S CAPRIOE, 309 

I awoke late the next morning to find it snowing. 

" I do hope to-morrow will not be such a day," I 
Baid to myself, looking out the window at the storm, 
which was not one to last or to Qiake sleighing, but 
just a straggling shower, half snow, half rain, with 
a raw wind and dripping roofs under a low, leaden 
sky. 

" You will not be sorr)' to visit Florida after this 
specimen of our weather," I said to Margaret at 
breakfast Doctor Berthelot had made arrangements 
to take his bride to the land of flowers for a six 
weeks' sojourn. 

She looked up at me as if startled ; at the same 
moment her knife fell out of her hand on her plate 
with a crash. It was curious to see one so stately 
and self-possessed show any signs of embarrassment, 
and we smiled at each other around the table. 

"Are you going to do like that some day?" I 
heard Harry ask Nellie, and saw her look as if she 
doubted it. 

By a certain paleness, and the dark lines under 
her eyes, I inferred that Margaret had slept poorly. 
Her parents looked at her with some concern, and 
her mother said : 

"I trust you will not look so ill to-morrow, my 
dear." 

"I suppose I look about seventy, do I not?" re- 



iJlO A QUEEN'S CAPRICE. 

Bpondcd the brido-elect, laughing, and rubbing her 
cheeks with her handkerchief to bring some color 
into them. ^' The wind howled around the corner in 
the night and kept me awake." 

^^ You must take a nap sometime daring the day," 
said Uncle. 

" I will try to find time, papa, thank you.^ 

There is always a great deal to do on these ^last 
days." The packing was nearly completed before, 
and Florette easily finished it that morning. There 
were servants to do everything, and all that coald 
be prepared in advance, was ; yet it proved, with 
one thing and another, to be a busy day. Presents 
were being sent in, messages, flowers, in a never end- 
ing stream. Tlie bridal gifts were almost number- 
less, many of them the choice of refined taste as well 
as laWsh purses, but my cousin utterly refused to un- 
fasten a package, and would scarcely loi>k at the 
exquisite treasures of art after I had brought tliem 
out of their cases and placed them before her, 

"I wish my friends would spare me! It is an 
abominable custom," she muttered once, turning 
desperately from the roomful of beautiful things 
in gold and silver, marble and canvas, and looking 
so lieart-sick that I was astonished at her. 

Doctor Beithelot considerately remained away all 
the morning. lie came in to luncheon, and went off 



A QUEEN'S CAPRICE. 311 

again until evening. Aunt Maxwell gave orders that 
Margaret was not to be worried by too much consult- 
ing ; still, her taste had to be indulged ; the short day 
slipped on with unaccountable swiftness, and it was 
four o'clock before the bride-to-be found the oppor- 
tunity for taking the desired repose. 

" Do not disturb me until dinner-time, please, good 
friends," she said. "And, mother, bo careful of 
youi-self. Yon, too, are tired,'* and she kissed her, 
with a wistful smile, that brought tears into the ma- 
ternal eyes. " At a quarter to six Florette may come 
to my room." 

The two hours flew rapidly enough. It was late 
when I went to dress for dinner ; I had to light the 
gaa, for in these briefest December days it was dark 
before five o'clock. I moved about softly, for fear of 
disturbing my slumbering cousin ; finished my dress- 
^^g hy placing in my. bosom and hair a few of the 
flowers with which the house was literally crowded, 
and went down to the brilliant saloon to be compli- 
mented by Uerr Ilalm on my looks, as usual, and to 
await Margaret's appearance. 

Although the storm was over, the pavements were 
damp and so was the air, and I did not expect Mr. 
Lowell, who would hardly venture out in such 
weather. 

" Do you know. Miss Guthrie," began Ilerr Halm, 



312 ^ qUEEN'8 CAPRIOB. 

deserting the organ and sitting by me, ^ that mj 
mind is fnll of Faust this evening % I am actually 
haunted by him. He seems to me to be here in this 
room, a living, lurking reality.'* 

'^ I heard you playing the music. Is Mephistoph- 
eles here, also ? " 

^^ Oh, of course," jumping up and walking about 
in a restless way. Presently he sat down by me 
again. 

" Has the fair Fraulein heard from Paris lately f " 

He had a habit of teasing me about Mr. Vervelde. 
I was given an excuse for not replying by the entrance 
of Doctor Berthelot, who saluted us, and quickly cast 
a glance about him in search of his betrothed. Doubt- 
less the Doctor had expected to meet her in the draw- 
ing-room; but not finding her there, came on up to 
the saloon, with loverly impatience. 

^' Margaret requested us not to disturb her untQ a 
quarter to six, Doctor Berthelot," I explained. " We 
all insisted on her lying down to rest, and I dare Bay she 
will not be dressed for dinner until the last moment" 

He made some pleasant reply, found an evening 
paper, and tried to occupy himself with the news. 
Aunt and uncle were busy making a suitable ar- 
rangement of the wedding-presents. 

The Herr slipped a thick silver watch out of his 
pocket. " It is five minutes to six." 



A QUEEN'S CAPRICE, 313 

" One would think you were the lover," I said. 
" Do you expect a lady to dress in ten minutes ? " 

** No, no! I expect nothing. But ten minutes — 
sometimes a lifetime is compressed into less time — 
or rather, the time expands into years. Ton smile, 
as if you suspect that I am famished. Indeed, it is 
not hunger that makes the minutes so tedious," and 
again he deserted my side, walking up and down in 
front of me, as if agitated by some strong emotion 
of which I was ignorant I always knew that he ad- 
mired my cousin ; now I began to fear that his senti- 
ments toward her were more serious than we had 
thought. 

Aunt and uncle, Nellie and Harry, came into the 
saloon. A few moments later, Florette appeared at 
the door. 

" Does Madame know where I will find Miss Max- 
well ? " 

" She is probably asleep, Florette. Have you 
knocked atlier door?'' 

" Ah, yes, Madame, I have been in her room and 
MisB Guthrie's. I have been waiting for some time. 
I thought I would speak to you about it, as Made- 
moiselle seems not to be in the house." 

Aunt Maxwell laughed lightly. 

" Why, of course she is in the house, Florette. 
She may be in the library, selecting a book or two 



314 



A QUEEN'S CAPRICE. 



for the journey. I half believe she is still asleep and 
you have not noticed her." 

As she said this, Aunt left the saloon, crossed the 
hall, and entered her daughter's chamber. 

Presently she came out again, and asked my uncle 
to go down to the library and see if Margaret was 
there. In a short time it became positive that the 
one we now all began to look for — in a half -laughing, 
half nervous, and constantly increasing wonder — was 
not in the house. 






CHAPTER XX. 

KETTLKS AND SWOBDS. 

** Set down this 
For oondemnation, — I was guilty heie : 
I stood upon my deed and fought my doubt, 
As men will, — for I doubted — till at last 
My deed gave way beneath me suddenly 
And left me what I am.*' 

— Aurora LHgK 

** Just for this she flung aside 

All my toU, my heart, my name ; 
Trapipled on my andent pride, 
Turned my honor into shame.** 

— Owen Meredith, 




HE feeling of doubt and formless suspi- 
cion which had oppressed me for the last 
three days, began to take shape in my mind. 
" Whatever my consin has done — wherever she is, 
Turner knew all about it," I suddenly felt certain, 
and I rushed to tlie dining-room to demand from 
him an explanation. 
But Turner was not there. The other servants 



316 NETTLES AND 8 WORDS, 

could not tell me what had become of him— dinner 
was ready to be served and they were awaiting his 
return. 

" Turner is out, too, dear aunt," I cried, returning 
to the saloon, where all, by chance, had again as- 
sembled. " I see how it is I — ^Margaret has for- 
gotten something, and has slipped out quietly to 
secure it, taking Turner with her for protection 1 " 

" Of course," murmured Doctor Bethelot, speaking 
for the first time, ^' that must be the explanation of 
her absence. We have alarmed ourselves unneces- 
arily," and, with a sigh of relief, he wiped the sweat 
from his forehead, and sank back in his chair with 
the air of one relieved from torture. 

" Mephistopheles, Mephistopheles," I heard Herr 
Halm muttering. Just then aunt saw & folded note 
lying on the table at which we were most in the habit 
of gathering. She picked it up. "This is from 
Margaret — to me," she exclaimed, tearing it open. 

We all looked at her while her eyes devoured the 
lines. She turned red and pale half a dozen times 
during the reading. Then she handed the note to 
uncle. " Read it aloud," she said, and bursting into 
tears, she covered her face with her hands. Uncle 
snatched the letter and began to read aloud : 
'' My Dbas Parents : 

" By the time you discover my absence I shall be 



NETTLES AND 8W0BD8. 317 

the wife of Reginald Vervelde. I am not in the 
habit of apologizing for my actions, even when I 
know that I have done wrong, as I am now doing. 
In this case no apology would avail, or prevent the 
mortification and disappointment you will suflFer. I 
am wickedly, shamefully wronging one of the noblest 
men on earth — a man I esteem far above him I am 
about to marry, and whom I tried to persuade 
myself I could learn to love. 

" I have rejected Mr. Vervelde again and again, and 
still again — though I loved him desperately all the 
while — ^because I felt no confidence in the stability 
of his character or of his love. 

" But he came back to me, all the way from Paris, 
three days ago, and the result of it all is, that he has 
at last persuaded me, against my own judgment, 
that it is better to be miserable with one you love 
than comfortable with one you esteem. If I had 
come to this conclusion four months ago, I should 
have saved you all much embarrassment, and myself 
a life-long regret We go to Philadelphia on the 
evening train, and sail from there on Saturday 
for Europe, where we remain for some time. 
Turner, who is much attached to Mr. Vervelde, 
insists on going with him, but I am displeased that 
he should do so, as I do not like papa's losing his 
services. The Rev. Mr. Pillows is waiting at his 



dCJ 



/ 



318 NETTLES AND 8 WORDS. 

house to perform the marriage ceremony. If my 
heart ever aches worse than it does to-day, I shall not 
ask ray friends to pity me. I don't want yea to 
palliate my crime, or forgive it. I know just how 
bad it is, and how cowardly of me to take flight, 
leaving others to bear the consequences of my mis- 
conduct. Mabgaset." 

Almost before the reading was finished Doctor 
Berthelot had risen to go. He trembled visibly and 
his face was very pale, but that dignity which was one 
of his most striking characteristics, did not desert 
him. 

" If you will do me a favor, Mrs. Maxwell, you 
will keep my little girls witli you overnight, and say 
nothing out of the house about the affair until nine 
in the morning. I shall go to Florida, as I intended, 
taking my children with me ; we will leave by an 
early train, and I shall escape some of the bitterness 
of this." 

nis forced calmness did not conceal the fact that 
he had received a frightful wound. Uncle, himself 
pale and agitated, wrung his hand : " Do not go, 
Kemain with us to-night My friend, you know that 
I feel this blow, aimed at you, in my very heart^ 

^^ I do not doubt it. Nor do I blame Margaret too 
severely. Only she should have arrived sooner at a 



NETTLES AND 8W0BDS. 319 

knowledge of herself. Iler manner of wounding me 
has been merciless. But she did not intend it — it 
was not delibei-ate — but the work of a sudden infatu- 
ation. She must have been desperately persuaded, 
or she would not have been guilty of treachery." 

" Margaret was always so truthful," murmured her 
mother. 

" Yes, it was the chief glory of her character," as- 
serted Doctor Berthelot, almost witli a groan. " But 
she has stooped her nature to the level of his. I only 
pray that she may not always have to lower herself 
to be happy with that man." 

He went out of the room, with a grand bow to us 
all. Uncle followed him down to the door. 

Aunt began to sob. " I do not care for myself," 
she said, " but only for him. I never felt so humili- 
ated, so completely crushed, in my life. Oh, it is too 
much for us to bear! He is one of the proudest 
and most sensitive of men I Margaret is mad I 
mad I Oh, how angry I am with her ! She might 
have had Yervelde a year ago, but no ! she would 
not have him then I But nawj with the cards out 
and the world expectant — it seems to me as if I 
should go wild t 

" The only grain of comfort in the whole miser- 
able affair is, that Yervelde did not succeed in break- 
ing your heart, too, Marion. Poor, poor Doctor 



320 NETTLES AND SWORDS. 

Berthelot I I could get down on my knees to him, if 
that would do any good — eavo his feelings one par- 
ticle — ^but nothing we can do wiU help him. I 
never admired him as much as at this moment/' 

Uncle Maxwell came back, tlirew himself into a 
chair, and sat silent ; but when Herr Halm arose to 
go, he looked up and said, in his kind way, ever 
thoughtful of others, " Go into the dining-room 
and have something to eat before you leave us.'* 

There was no fear that the musician would betray 
our secret to the outside world after hearing Doctor 
Berthelot's request, for he was a gentleman. That 
the little drama would be exposed to the criticism 
of our dear five thousand friends very early on the 
morrow, was to be expected ; but if the Doctor got 
out of town before it was suspected, we asked noth- 
ing more of fate. He was the one most cruelly 
wronged, most sharply wounded. What we had to 
suffer was nothing. 

1 went down-stairs and placed a servant at tlie 
door to deny us to all visitors, and then wandered 
aimlessly about, amid the almost oppi*essive sweet- 
ness of a fairy world of flowers, with which the 
rooms were already decorated in anticipation of a 
momhig ceremony at twelve the following day. My 
aunt and uncle, I felt sure, preferred being left en- 
tirely to themselves. About nine they came down 



NETTLES ANB SWORDS. 321 

and made a pretence of eating something, which 
was only to take their coffee. 

"My poor, dear Marion," murmured my aunt, 
looking compassionately over at me. " How fortu- 
nate that you never really loved Mr. Vervelde, after 
all!" 

** The truth is, I always felt that he never loved 
rae, Aunt Maxwell. lie played the part of lover 
beautifully, but I knew, by some curious instinct, 
that it was only acting. At first I was flattered, 
pleased, confused — I thought I loved him. A man 
like Mr. Vervelde would be sure to persuade a young 
girl, if he tried, tliat she was interested in him." 

" Yes, he is very, veiy fascinating. There is not a 
young lady of my acquaintance who would not be 
glad to marry Vervelde. 

" Certainly, one year ago we would not have 

refused him our daughter. It is only because of his 

course toward you, and now toward Doctor Berthelot, 

tliat I fear for Margaret's future. Without truth 

and honor there is no secure foundation for happi 

ness. A man of Vervelde's principles may well be 

suspected of being a fortune-hunter, though he could 

have married into wealthy families before this, if he 

chose. Really, I do not know what to think of 

him, <jr of this wretched affair. My head aches with 

trying to straighten it out." 
14* 




t» 1 



322 NBTTLB8 AND SWORD& 

" Don't try to straighten it, my dear wife, but go 
to bed and sleep off your headache, if you can. 
Time undoes the hardest knots. It will be all the 
same an hnndred years from now. There is always 
that consolation for the unhappy.'' 

^^ But will it be the same, dear nncle,'' I asked, 
timidly, ^^ if Margaret, by a life spent with one of a 
baser nature than the man she was to have married 
to-morrow, gradually sinks to his level, and becomes 
a less noble woman than she would have been as 
Doctor Berthelot's wife ? Will it be all the same an 
hundred years from now J Will she not carry into 
another life the marks of servitude to a base master 
which she will receive in this ? Will it not take lier 
long to outgrow the scar upon her truth ? And in 
this will there not be a punishment for her offence, 
severer than any other, and more inexorable ? " 

^' If I believed as you do, Marion," he answered, 
looking sadly into my eyes, '^ I should find something 
terrible in this inevitable punishment which must 
follow the breaking of the law. You are severe 
upon your cousin — more severe than I, who yet con- 
demn her fault as pitilessly as if she were not my 
darling child." 

I burst into tears. 

" I did not mean to be severe, uncle. I have too 
many faults and follies of my own. I had not a 



NETTLES AND 8W0RD8. 323 

harsh thought about Margaret. Bat yoar remark about 
time curing all our troubles compelled me to think 
what we would all be an hundred years from now. 
I seemed to see how we injure ourselves when we 
live below our convictions and capacities. I am an 
optimist, uncle. You would try in vain to make me 
punish any one — much less, one I love — even though 
you put the scourge in my hand. But if we will 
scar or dwarf our natures, I can see that it will take 
a discouraging time to outgrow our self-inflicted 
imperfections." 

" There, there ! wipe away your tears, little girl. 
I will not call you merciless again ; tliough, some- 
times, you love-preaching Christians do seem fear- 
fully cruel in your condemnations. I am glad that 
I, for one, have not the awful burden on my thoughts 
of an eternity — I should go mad if I believed the doc- 
trine of immortality. What ! never, never, never 
to escape myself ? — to sleep, to lay down the burden 
of life ? Such a gift would be worse tlian the gift 
of Pandora's box. Happily, tlie very construction of 
the universe argues against it. Change is written on 
the very face of tlie heavens. Nature never rests. 
She exists but by constant transformations. We 
shall pass away, and that which was us shall be some- 
thing new." 

'^Is not tliat thought a sad one to you, uncle t" 



■v^- 



I 

/ 



824 NETTLES AND 8 WORDS, 

'^ Sometimes it is full of tragedy and despair. 
Of tener, it is a sweet and restful thooght. We all like 
to lie down and sleep when we are tired. Daring 
the hurry and toil of the day we look forward to the 
night" 

" But also to a re-awakening.'* 

" Peace, little girl I K you find comfort in the 
traditions of the elders, I would not deprive you of 
it I am quite willing you shall cherish any vision 
of the future that you take pleasure in painting. To 
me that curtain of Death is a blank. 1 do not de- 
ceive myself by throwing upon it fantastic figures of 
this life, exaggerated by the lens of faith, which the 
priest, with his magic lantern, manipulates to excite 
om* open-mouthed wonder. We know nothing ex- 
cept by our senses. Consequently all these images 
of a future life are but magnified reflections of this. 
You cannot form one independent idea. Then why 
trouble ourselves about the unknowable, when there 
is plenty to keep us busy of what may be known I 
My dear!" — to aunt — "shall I give you ten drops of 
cannibvs indicat^^ 

" If you think best ; my head aches furiously. I 
shall have \o see a few people to-morrow, and I do 
not care to look more wretched than is necessary. 
Dear, dear ! what will the bridesmaids say ? And 
the wedding-breakfast coming ! Poor Margaret ! to 



4 



I 
\ 



NETTLES AND SWORDS. 325 

be running away in this style, missing the breakfast, 
and the bridal-dress, and the congratulations ! Going 
o£f like a thief in the night ! poor girl, when she 
ought to be so happy. Only think ! Margaret is a 
bride, and none of iis have kissed her, or called 
her by her new name." By this time aunt was sob- 
bing again, and I was helping her. 

Very likely uncle had not once thought of all the 
little and great awkwardnesses of the domestic situa- 
tion. I even saw a queer, sarcastic smile hovering 
about his mouth when aunt bemoaned the brides- 
maids and the breakfast. He concerned himself 
solely about the injury to his friend Berthelot, and the 
prospects of future happiness for Margaret. But 
women's lives are made up of small duties — atten- 
tion to mean, but impoi*tant details. All the minor 
embarrassments fell to my aunt's share. It was not 
only that she was disappointed in the grand wedding 
which was to have been surrounded by splendid ac- 
cessories, and that she had to face a battery loaded 
with nettles, but her mother's heart yearned over the 
runaway. Iler only daughter, a wife, on her way to 
a neighl)oring city on that dull, wet night, witliout a 
word of comfort and encouragement from those who 
loved her ! Margaret gone for a long journey and 
a home in another country ! It was natural that tlie 
mother should think more of her child tlian even of 



326 NETTLBS AND 8W0RD8. 

Doctor Berthelot, keenly as she felt his suffer- 
ings. 

Suddenly my annt wiped away her tears and arose 
to her feet with an air of determination: 

" I shall go to Philadelphia by the noon train to- 
morrow. I shall see Margai*et and tell her that she 
does not go on the sea withoat my love and blessing. 
Sorely as she has tried us, the poor girl shall feel that 
she has a mother." 

" I do not object to your going," said uncle, after a 
moment's reflection. " It will be the best thing you 
can do, both for her and for yourself. It wiU be a 
relief to you too, to be out of this house." 

" And will you go with me, Doctor ? " 

" No, my dear. I am in no mood to meet my new 
Bon-in-law yet. I might wring his neck for him. 
But you are Margaret's mother, and I cannot thwart 
your desire to see her and bid her good-bye." 

There was something in his voice when he spoke 
about wringing Vervelde's neck which told her 
she had better not urge him to accompany her ; so 
she said, very meekly, kissing liim : 

" Well, I will take the canniius and go to bed. 
Since I have so exciting a visit before me I will do 
my best to rest to-night." 

Long after aunt was in bed, and sleeping under the 
influence of the medicine, I, lying wide awake, with 



NETTLES AND SW0BD8. 327 

hearing preteniaturally keen, heard my uncle walk- 
ing np and down the saloon. 

The pain and regret which he suffered were only 
second, I am sure, to the anguish inflicted on the 
deserted lover. 

A stain upon the truth or honor of a member of 
his family could not fail to distress Doctor Maxwell. 
That the goddess Fashion would kindly overlook his 
daughter's freak on account of Vervelde's brilliancy 
and her father's wealth and immaculate position, was 
no consolation to him. It was Trutli herself that he 
respected, and not the opinions of others. 

Then, too, he was sincerely attached to Doctor 
Berthelot. Their tastes and pursuits were kindred, 
and each could esteem in the otlier a vital integrity. 
To feel that his daugliter liad thus crushed and hu- 
miliated his friend, must have been bitter. 

Lying there, reflecting on the startling interruption 
to our plans, I hoped that Aligre would not hear of it 
until I had infonned him by note. I knew that any- 
thing in which he was so deeply interested as this 
would be apt to agitate him beyond his strength. 

As for Nellie and Harry, tliey were too happy in 
each other to be made entirely miserable by any 
event which did not separate them. Harry had been 
furiously indignant against Verveldo, saying far more 
than his parents, and storming about the saloon with 



r 



"1 



328 NETTLES AND 8W0RD8, 

pale face and flashing eyes ; but Nellie had stolen 
her hand into his, and soon, with her soft voice, sul> 
dued the lion, and led him away to the library cap- 
tive. When he finally parted from us for the night 
he was calm and inclined to be reasonable. 

" To think of the course that man pursued toward 
little * Goldilocks ! ' " he exclaimed, with a brief re- 
turn of savageness, as he kissed me good-night. 

"At least the consequences were not so serious 
as they might have been, cousin Harry. You are not 
called on, fortunately, to break a lance in my de- 
fence." 

'' I may thank Lowell for tliat, and not liim, little 



cousin." 



To mc, as I lay thinking over all these mattei*8, there 
was a grain of consolation in the knowledge that now 
I must bo justified in the sight of my relatives for my 
course toward Vervelde. 

lie had not wronged me in marrying Margaret — 1 
had released myself from bondage to him weeks before. 
I prayed that Margaret might be happy — that her 
character might prove the leading one of the two, and 
that she might infiuence her husband more than he 
her. But when I recalled that peculiar, ntiagnetic 
strength of subtle influence which made him the man 
ho w:i8, 1 doubted if this would be so. 

Well, I slept at last, and morning came ; tlie dreaded 



NETTLES AND SWORDS. 329 

day was before us. I think we all felt as if we had, 
each of us, done something wrong — I am sure we 
looked so at breakfast. 

Aunt had the relief and excitement of her journey 
to Philadelphia before her, and bore up bravely. 
Harry offered to bear the brunt of battle, by making 
explanations to bridesmaids, ushers, and clergyman. 
Two or three servants were dispatched, each with a 
list of names, to countermand the invitations. Mrs. 
Arnold had been prevented, by a severe cold, from 
coming on to the wedding ; Nellie offered to write 
suitable explanations to her. 

Doctor Berthelot's children were made ready for 
their unexpected journey, and at ten o'clock he came 
to the door in a closed carriage, and uncle took 
them out and gave them to their father. Uncle 
looked very gloomy when he returned into the house, 
after bidding his friend farewell. The rest of us did 
not see Doctor Berthelot. 

The day, after all, was such a busy one, that it 
passed more quickly than we thought it could. After 
seeing aunt off on the train, Uncle Maxwell e^me home 
and went up to the " black room," where I longed to 
follow hhu, but, since he did not invite me, scarcely 
ventured to intrude on him. 

In the afternoon, as soon as he found leisure, Harry 
paid a visit to the Bev. Mr. Pillows, obtained an ao- 



330 NETTLES Aim 8W0BD& 

count of the performance of the marriage ceremony, 
and immediately wrote and sent notices of the event 
to the evening papers. 

It mnst have been some almost adeqaate retom 
for their disappointment when onr poor bridesmaids 
and guests, that were to have been, read the announce- 
ment over their dinners and teas : 

" Married, December twenty-sixth, at the Eectory 
of St. Angeliqne's, by the Reverend John Pillows, 
Reginald Vervelde, of Paris, and Margaret^ only 

daughter of 11. Maxwell, M. D., of 2 Fifth 

Avenue, New York." 

Not Thebot's skill could give a relish to our own 
quiet dinner ; for we were keenly aware that we had 
furnished a sauce piquant to the tables of our friends 
and acquaintances. 

Aunt had taken her daughter's wardrobe to her; 
but we were kept employed on the second day retain- 
ing the bridal presents, which, under the circum- 
stances, we felt ought not to be retained. 

Aunt Maxwell returned late on Saturday afternoon, 
looking worn and anxious, and yet brighter than when 
she went away. Her daughter was Iiappy, and had 
half-persuaded her that a grave widower of Berthelot's 
age ran no danger of a broken heart. Ver^"elde was 
delightful — she was not sure but Margaret had done 
the wisest thing, after all ; though she, aunt, should 



/ 



NETTLES AND SWORDS. 33] 

never cease to regret tlic a£Fair with Doctor Berthelot, 
and the gossip which would grow out of it Margaret 
had tlianked her a thousand times for coming — had 
seemed so much better satisfied than before ; she had 
seen them on board tlie steamer, and she hoped her 
child had not commited a fatal error, etc, etc. 

Poor auntie ! adoring her only daughter as she did, 
of course she hoped, excused and forgave, trying to 
look on the bright side and to forget the unpleasant 
one ; but tliere were lines of care on her handsome 
face ; and I saw that she shrank, as if one had laid a 
rude finger on a bare wound, at the least allusion to 
the gossip tlie affair must make in society. 

We all lived through it ; if unpleasant things were 
said, they were not said to us ; many considered the 
romance of the story charming, admired the triumph 
of love, and bestowed more sympathy on the lovers 
than on the deserted bridegroom-expectant. 

Nellie went home, we settled down to our old 
ways ; but the house was not what it had been when 
the daughter graced it 



CHAPTEE XXI, 
A queen's exouse. 

*^ Alas ! that love ahonld be a blight and Biiaie 
To thoee who seek all sympathies in one." 

** This I know, that these two careatores found not 
In each other some sign they expected to find 
Of a something unnamed in the heart or the mind ; 
And mifwing it, each felt a right to complain 
Of a sadness which each found no words to explain. 
Whatever it was, the world noticed not it 
In the light-hearted beauty, the light-hearted wit*' 

— Otodn Meredith' 9 ^'IauOa.^ 




ITEL the beginning of the New Year I re- 
sumed my studies, more free from interup- 
tion than I had been at any time since com- 
ing from school to my uncle's. Aunt went out less 
than usual ; and as I had refused to make my debvi 
in society that season, I gave very little heed to the 
winter gayeties of our friends. 

Engaged to a Boston lady, and with no sister to 



A QUEEN '8 EXCUSE. 333 

make demands on his gallantry, ever-joyous Harry 
spent many evenings at home, on which occasions he 
found employment in teasing me. 

Uncle Maxwell gave his Saturday dinnere to the 
savants^ according to l^is custom ; Herr Halm gave 
me lessons in singing and came as usual; Aligre, 
visibly improved in health, haunted the house toward 
dusk of every day not too inclement 

I could ask no greater earthly felicity than grew and 
grew upon me as the quiet days and weeks flitted by. 
I enjoyed my studies with all the keen appetite of a 
hungry student craving knowledge ; while to see 
Aligre almost every day, and to realize that he was 
actually growing better, rounded off my days with a 
sunset glory. 

The privilege of listening to those who came to 
enjoy Uncle Maxwell's society was another source of 
pleasure — indeed, too much was crowded into the 
richness of that satisfying winter. 

By a double course— carefully chosen for mo by my 
uncle — of science and philosophy, I began to enter a 
few steps into the wonderful workshops of Nature, 
and beheld her creating infinite variety out of a few 
simple elements. I held my breath, as I followed in 
awe behind the learned ones who, advancing step by 
step into her laboratories, thought to surprise her out 
of her secrets. Armed with telescope, microscope, 



334 ^ QUEEN '8 EXCUSE. 

gpectroBcope, Bupported by an artillery of delicate 
apparatus, wise in the tactics of offence and approach, 
they stole upon her on every side. More than once 
some leader said to himself, ^^ she must surrender ! — 
I am in the very heart and stronghold of her de- 
fences!" But, as hitherto she evaded him, carrying 
with her the mystery of Life, while leaving behind 
her plenty of lesser spoil. 

As the fact slowly grew upon me that the Creator 
was in no danger of being measured by the creature — 
that the essence of matter and force must forever 
escape the investigator — that the most exact knowl- 
edge of the motion of the brain-atoms can never 
explain the secret of consciousness — ^that in our own 
perception that we exist lurks the unsurprisable mys- 
tery, but that we do exist, and have a quality which no 
combination of physical atoms could impart to us, my 
faith in a sympathetic God and in the immortality of 
the principle of life, grew more invincible. 

To me God was only the more wonderful and 
adorable as I saw more clearly that He worked by 
law and not by miracle. The one miracle of con- 
sciousness which he had wrought in the beginning of 
life was enough to establish reverence and belief in us. 

No effort of ours to understand Him, however, could 
be displeasing to Him, unless made in an audacious 
and ungi*atef ul spirit. 



A QUEB2PS EXCUSE. 335 

I talked to Aligre a great deal on these subjects. 
As I had the comfort of a faith in the fatherly caro 
of the All-Parent, I also prayed, daily and nightly, for 
my dear lover, that he might change his views of the 
f Qture, and learn to look forward to death with more 
comfort and less defiance. Nothing was more ceitain 
than that, sooner or later, he had to die, and I, too. 

I wanted him to feel that those qualities which 
made him himself and none other — that his individ- 
uality was imperishable. Well I knew that to the 
Borrowing, earth-disappointed human soul immortal- 
ity is a boon for which it would feel no joy or grati- 
tude unless with it was preserved the consciousness 
of the individual. I endeavored to make him see, 
what was apparent to me, that this consciousness is 
the only real mystery about us, and, at the same time, 
the only proof we have that we are — that if matter 
and force are indestructible, this finer essence must 
be, at least, as little so — it may cease to interact with 
the nerve-force, but it cannot become extinguished 
— it must live so long as this universe remains. 

"Why should I worry myself about those mat- 
ters ? " he would reply. " Whatever be the issue of 
death, certain it is, / shall not decide it, or you 
either. Let us be as good as our natures permit, 
snatch what flowers grow by the roadside, and look 
not to the end of our journey." 



336 A QUEEN'S EXCUSE. 

" Do yon remember what Hamlet says, Aligre I 

'* * What is a man — 

If his chief good and market of his time 

Be but to sleep and feed ? A beast — ^no more. 

Sure, He that made ns with saoh large diaooorse, 

Looldng before and after, g^ye na not 

That capability and god-like reason 

To fust in ns unused.' " 

" Oh, yes, I remember it, you umnercif ul girl I Bat 
I think I am discharged from the post of any very 
onerous duties. The burden which I carry about with 
me every day and hour prevents any too great amount 
of self-indulgence. I am not one of those butter- 
flics who fly from sweet to sweet with only a drop 
of honey to weight me. I have a broken wing to 
draggle, and that forces me to think more of my- 
self than I care to. A sickly creature,-only fit to be 
waited upon — I cannot see why you should love me, 
Marion I Often and often I resolve never to chain 
your young life to my broken one. Why should 1 1 
At least, since you talk of self-denial, it is a pang to 
me to know that I have asked such a sacrifice from 
you — I, who have no right to a woman's sweet com- 
panionship." 

What could I do, then, but soothe him with a 
tliousand little tendernesses which would have been 
withheld from a more fortmiate lover — love him 



A QUEEN'S EXCUSE. 837 

with a passionate foudness, embittered by de- 
spair } 

I received an occasional letter from Margaret 
during the winter. The first came a few weeks after 
her arrival in Paris. It was a curious letter for a 
bride to write ; but it was characteristic of that un- 
flinching candor which was one of her most marked 
qualities, and which had failed her but once in her 
life — if we can call a sudden, overwhelming tempta- 
tion to do other than as she had promised, a lapse 
from truth. After a few sentences relating to home 
affairs, she went on : 

^^ I feel that an explanation is due me as well as 
you, if you and I are ever to be complete friends 
again, as I hope we shall be. It makes me impa- 
tient to feel that, in all pi-obability, you and otlier 
friends of mine accuse me of a coui*se of designed 
deception. It is time to have all clear between us. 
I made Mr. Yerveldo's acquaintance a little over a 
year ago, after his return from a residence of some 
time abroad. I had heard much of him before I 
met him. It was said that there was not an unen- 
gaged young lady in New York who would refuse 
Reginald Vervelde ; but that he was quite indiffer- 
ent to women, except as the companion of an hour at 
dinner or ball. He was not ^ a marrying man.' Uis 

baclielor-habits were confirmed. One peculiarity of 
15 



/ 



338 ^ QUEBK'8 EXCUSE, 

his disposition was said to be that he detested obliga- 
tions of all kinds ; he never bound himself to any- 
thing. He did not even accept the dinner and re- 
ception invitations showered npon him, because be 
would not commit himself ; but if he remembered 
the hour and felt in the mood, he went when the 
time came. He could not tell you the day before he 
started whether he were going to Newport or to 
Kome. To tie him down to a wife would be to make 
him miserable. Not that he was merely a trifler,— 
he had some earnest pursuits, was a lover of good 
pictures and an inveterate reader of good books — ^bnt 
that he had so long cultivated his own inclinations, 
so jealously guarded his own freedom, that it would 
be hard for him to break up the habit of years. Ilis 
manner of conducting business was like the rest- 
when so inclined he went down on Wall Street and 
operated, for a few days or weeks, in stocks ; but he 
would go into no regular employment 

^' An epicurean life, not at all immoral, in some 
respects even beautiful ; but lacking a high idealism 
and disgracefully selfish. 

" Well, I met this interesting subject of so much 
gossip, and, with the mingled love of mischief and of 
power, of a young, quick-witted girl, who had nothing 
better to do, I resolved — as doubtless fifty girls had 
done before me — ^to see if / could not destroy that 



A QUEEN'S EXCUSE, 839 

iropertnrbable, flelf -satisfaction which was an affront 
to my sex. 

" I succeeded beyond my best wishes. He came 
often to our house ; he liked my parents and the at- 
mosphere of our salon/ he, so it seems, much to his 
own astonishment, fell unequivocally in love with the 
daughter of that house. 

" One gloomy day in March he came through a 
rain storm to tell me this. He confessed that he liad 
struggled against the growing feeling — that he had 
vowed never to place his liberty in the hands of a 
woman — but that I had mastered his resolution. 

" ' Do with me anything you please ; ' he said,* my 
wings are clipped — I am your prisoner.' My heart 
beat high with triumph. I did not ask myself 
whether it were the mere flattery of being sought by 
a man of the world, or a sincere return of his love, 
which thrilled me with such sweet elation. 

" I willingly allowed him to become my suitor. But 
Mr. Vervelde had not been my lover one month be- 
fore I began to realize that a life with him would 
not be such a life bs I had pictured. You know that 
I make no pretensions to goodness, Marion — that I 
consider the conscience a thing of education — that 1 
look forward to no future reward for anv small sac- 
rifice I may make in this world, bringing my virtues 
to heaven and demanding a million times their value 



/ 



340 ^ QUEEN' 8 EXCUSE. 

in return, — ^bnt I have an ideal of what we may make 
our lives here. Perhaps I am clearer sighted than a 
woman has any business to be. 

" I was very fond of Eeginald ; the touch of his 
hand, the glance of his eye, made me happy for a 
day ; yet I could not blind myself to the meanness 
of his life. For I call a life of studied egoism and 
selfishness a mean life. It even seemed to me that 
the more deeply I loved him, the more plainly I saw 
his faults. 

" My parents observed his devoted attentions bnt 
were unaware that we were avowed lovers. He said 
nothing a]x)iit a definite engagement, or of asking 
their consent to it — only there was no engagement 
of marriage ; and when I thought about it, it had to 
me the appearance of being left in that way that he 
might have time to consider whether marriage would, 
after all, be a wise thing for him. I felt so sensitive 
about this that I confided nothing to my mother. My 
pride rebelled against the situation. A Maxwell was 
never made to wait on the pleasure of a lover. I 
l>roke ofE utterly from Mr. Vervelde, perhaps a month 
before you came to us^ He continued to visit my 
father, however, and I treated him as a formal ac- 
quaintance. My conduct annoyed and surprised 
him. He did not believe I would hold out But 
when I went to Newport, after your arrival, refus- 



A qUEEN'8 EXCUSE, 341 

ing all overtures of friendship from him, he began to 
see that I was in earnest. 

" lie began the game of making me jealous by 
paying attention to you. I understood it at once, 
after reading your first letter. That made me 
almost despise him ; he gained nothing by that. 
When we returned, he made an appeal to me suffi- 
ciently earnest to be some balm to my wounded 
pride ; but I had made up my mind to conquer my 
liking for him, and I told him so. I refused to wear 
the cape-jasmine he brought me. Then it was, that, 
angry with me, he sent the jasmine in to you, and 
immediately began making love to you, not half an 
hour after he had been at my feet. I pitied you, but 
I did not feel called on to interfere. Mother, not 
dreaming of the state of affairs, invited him to make 
a visit to Drowsydell. 

** You can infer all that occurred thenceforward. 
He made many appeals to me while at Drowsydell, 
stating that you loved Mr. Lowell and not him, and 
that no harm could come to you from our becoming 
friends again. I fought desperately with my incli- 
nation to forgive him, for his course had been alto- 
gether faulty. Meanwhile, Doctor Berthelot became 
my suitor. I saw, in an engagement with him, a 
refuge from my own danger of yielding to Vervelde. 
I unwisely accepted the Doctor; but I did not 



842 ^ qUEE^rS BXCU8B. 

deceive him as to my feelings. I told hira distinctly 
that I did not love him — tliat I had loved another— 
and that, if I married him he must run the risk of 
happiness. He consented to this. Ueaven knows 
that I meant to keep my word with him ! I had not 
one idea of doing otherwise, until tlie day before 
Christmas, when Turner brought me a passionate, 
urgent letter from Mr. Vervelde, saying that he had 
crossed the ocean to demand me to be true to myself 
and my love for him, before my falsehood be- 
came lifelong. I need not repeat the arguments he 
used to induce me to have an interview with him. 
I consented, and walked with him for half an hoar 
on one of the side streets leading out of the Avenue, 
while you were at church on Christmas morning. 
You know the finale of that interview. Reginald is 
very good to me — ^he gives me a great deal of his 
time. I am madly in love with him ; but not so 
thoroughly happy as I should be if I could forget the 
wrong I did to a most estimable man. We are lead- 
ing the life which Mr. Vervelde likes best: we have 
elegant apartments in a quiet hotel, study French 
literature, lounge in the picture galleries, visit the 
opera, do as we please, and are not under bondage to 
society, though we meet some delightful people. If 
I have the heartache, at odd moments, I do not 
mention it to Reginald. I fancy he would not so 



A QUEEN'S EXCUSE. 343 

much pity me as he would feel amioyed. 1 shall try 
to come home next year and see my mother and 
father. I know you will be good to them, cousin — 
you were made for no purpose but to be good to 
those who need it. 

" This letter is for you alone. To no other person 
on earth could I have written it If we are friends, 
we must be so with a clear understanding. My self- 
respect has grown shabby, Marion, but I intend to 
mend and furbish it." 

I felt more sad over this letter than there was 
warrant for. I admired the truthfulness which had 
induced my cousin to write it ; I hoped her influ- 
ence over Vervelde would be to bring out his best 
qualities and make him what he might be ; but I 
could not but feel regret that some kindly storm had 
not delayed the ship which brought him in seai'ch of 
Margaret, until after the twenty-eighth of December 
had placed her beyond his reach. 

I did my best to fulfil Margaret's injunction to be 
good to my aunt and uncle ; but the active goodness 
was mostly upon their side. They heaped upon my 
fortunate shoulders all the kindness they could have 
shown a favorite daughter. Love and respect 1 gave 
them in abundance, with those little pei'sonal atten- 
tions so welcome from a youthful member of the 
household ; but I could not repay my debt to them. 



^r* ■ 1 1 tr- 



344 A QUEEN' 8 EXCUSE. 

I was devoted to Uncle Maxwell ; to me he was the 
most admirable of all men. I think he perceived 
my great fondness for him, and that my society be- 
came of some consequence to him. He declared 
that I was the most efficient helper he had ever had 
in his experiments ; nothing pleased him more thau 
tlie ardor with which I entered intr> their spirit. Oc- 
casionally, in telling of his work, he spoke a word 
of praise for his yonng assistant to the awe-inspiring 
circle of fellow-workers, and then the height of my 
earthly ambition was reached. 

With all this business on my hands I had plenty of 
time for poor Aligre. ^' Poor Aligre," I say — yet there 
was so much apparent improvement in his case that 
this mournful adjective no longer formed a neces- 
sary accompaniment to his name. Of a fine figure, 
naturally neat and particular as to his dress, which 
was always quietly rich and elegant ; with a fund of 
boyish spirits which all his suffering had not bank- 
rupted ; with those dazzling eyes so lighting up his 
face as almost to blind observation to its peculiar 
paleness, Aligre was not generally — ^at least at first 
sight — taken as an object of pity. 

I was proud (»f his beauty and his charming man- 
ners. Accustomed to self-denial — to be told that it 
was bad for him to have what \ye wanted ; sadly fa- 
miliar with thoughts of the grave, of darkness, dust 



A qUBEN'8 BXCUaE. 



345 



and silence, it was only slowly that a hope, sown by 
his improving health, grew and flowered in his mind. 
The sweetness of that flower was all the more a 
mti*acle, that it arose ander clouded skies and was 
watered with tears. 

He told me nothing of its growth or blossoming 
until after two or three mysterious interviews which 
he held with Uncle Maxwell in the latter part of 
February. That he looked as happy as a child, after 
the last of these consultations, was explained to me 
by saying that the Doctor had given him encourage- 
ment to think that he might live some years in toler- 
able comfort by strict adherence to the rules of 
health which had been laid down for him. 

That this was not all his good physician had told 
him I learned soon afterward. 




15* 




CHAPTER XXII. 

A OLUSTEB OF WHITE B08B8. 

** The war and waste of clashing cieeds 
Now end in words, and not in deeds, 
And no one suffers loss, or bleeda, 
For thoughts that men oall heresies.** 

— LongfeUouk 

** There is pity in Thine eyes, 
But no hatred or surprise, 
Not in blind caprioe of will. 
Not in cunning sleight of skill, 
Not for show of power, was wrought 
Nature's marvel in Thy thought. 
Never careless hand in vain 
Smites these chords of joj and pain ; 
yd immortal se\fishne89 
Ph§fi the game of curee and bieet,** 

— WhiUier, 




S the Skeleton never spoke except wher 
there were a number of people about him 
— always three or four of those being the 
same — I had not yet, with all my watching, dis 



L. 



A CLUSTER OF WHITE ROSES, 347 

covered who the person was who reprefiented Mr. 
Murphy's views of life and things. I had accused 
Henry and Herr Halm, and even Uncle Maxwell. 

One Saturday evening, early in March, there had 
been the usual dinner party and the usual adjourn- 
ment to the saloon, where a *• feast of reason " pro- 
longed the banquet. There was a lively discussion 
of tlie question whether living matter originates in 
the present day. The most of the guests sided with 
witli Huxley and Spencer against such a supposition, 
but Uncle defended his position that the process of 
Archebiosis is still going on, with more warmth than 
he usually displayed. 

" It does not seem reasonable," he said, " nor con- 
formable with the theory of Evolution, that the 
almost structureless creatures which now exist 
could, by any possibility, have defended themselves 
against the changes inherent in living matter through 
the long stretch of ages since life was first evolved. 
If I were forced to believe it, I should feel it a 
death-blow struck at Evolution, in its most compre- 
hensive meaning, and should go over at once to the 
side of Agassiz." 

"What is tliis hullabaloo all about?" broke in 
Murphy, very disrespectfully. " When you've gone 
through as much as I have, you won't bother your 
heads to get at the answera to these conundrums. 



348 ^ CLUSTER OF WHITE ROSES, 

Let me tip you a wink on tlie sly, Doctlier, — ^3'ou're 
going too fast entirely. There's not been a bird but 
come from an egg these siventeen million years : nor 
will them little sponges an' things begin to study 
mental philosophy for the next siventeen million. 
The childers'll continue to wipe their slates with their 
convanient little corpses as long as school kapes. 
There'll never ,be an animal suparior to man on this 
planet — he'll kape house till the wood and coal, the 
flour an' praties give out, an' the sun plays him a 
dirthy trick by going out in mid-winter." 
"' What do you make out of that, Murphy ? " 
" If the process of life-evolution were still going 
on, I should look fur a new race to be staling a march 
on us, so cute that we couldn't hold our own at all, 
at all." 

" I don't see the di-ift of your argument" 
" If I'd a pair ov spectacles I'd lend tliem to ye, 
Docther. Why cudn't some ov the protoplasm lying 
about loose originate a spacies that would overtake 
an' conquer us in the long run ? You don't mane 
to make us belave that we all came out o' the same 
batch in the beginning ! — that it was a mere chancOi 
depindant on our board and lodging, whether we grew 
to be men, whales or ilaphants 1 " 

" Pei-sons differ in their opinions as to whether or 
not there were germs in the begiiming. For my party 



i 



df 



A CLUSTER OF WHITE B08E8, 349 

I do Dot see why it should be any more difficult for 
Nature to originate germs than to originate anything 
else. All the mystery lies in the origination. I be- 
lieve with you, Murphy, that the perfect flower of 
humanity lay cradled in the first man-germ." 

I turned and whispered to Aligre : 

" If Uncle Maxwell would admit an arbitrary act 
of creation at the first, all difficulties would disap- 
pear. The trutli seems to me clearly figured in the 
fii-st chapter of Genesis. *In the beginning' God 
made all living creatures, lastly man, and after that 
* he rested ; ' L e,y he has originated nothing living 
since, but only allowed the germs which he ' created ' 
to grow, propagate, and improve by natural selection. 
But the wise men are eager to put God out of His 
own univei-se. They seem to think He has nothing 
to do in it. You see a locomotive moving on a track 
laid purposely for it. The machinery is so perfect, 
the thing performs its work so well, you say, at first 
glance — ' it moves itself.' But you examine further 
and discover that it is steam which propels it, and 
yon say that * the vapor of water moves it.' Tlien 
you leani that it is heat applied to the water which 
generates the needed force, and you find that friction 
eliminates heat ; and you are quite certain tliat you 
can chase down the truth at last, and find nothing 
8upeniatiii*al in the movements of the locomotive^ 



352 -i CLUSTER OF WSITS MOSES. 

his thinking for him 1 Does it hurt him when he 
Btnbe hiB toe f orenenst & planet or a grain ov sand 1 

" Murphy, I've often heard it eaid that dead men 
tell no tales. la that the i-eason you refuse to anewer 
your own qnestionB ! " asked Harry. 

" Does Matter, or Force ayther, einse anything 1 — 
Can they make as einse anything, thin f Is it them 
little atoms as ache when I've a pain in the spine o' 
iny hack ? *' 

" Not until God ' breathed the breatli of life * into 
them, Aligre," I said to my companion. "How 
beautifully the inspired writer expressed the deepest 
and must mysterious — the utterly incomprehensible — 
pliilosopliical trutli, in those few woi-ds — ' He breathed 
the brcatliof life 'into all living things, thus giving 
us the only explanation wo can ever hope for, of the 
marvel of consciousness I 

" Do you remember what Du Bois-Raymond says 1 — 
' Wliat conceivable connection siibsieta between definite 
movements of definite atoms in my brain, on the one 
hand, and on the other, snch (for me) primordial, 
indefinable, undeniable facts as these : I feel pain, 
or pleasure; I experience a sweet taste, or smell a 
rose, or hear an oi^n, or see something red} And 
the immediately-consequent certainty — "Therefore I 
exist?" It is abstilutely and forever inconceivable 
that a number of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen. 



A CLUSTER OF WHITE B08E8. 351 

We were bo absorbed in each other that neither of 
us heard what was being said about us for some min- 
utes. When I again began to listen, the subject had 
drifted, and Murphy was chasing after it very nim- 
bly for a skeleton. 

" Fax, giutlemen, will any of yees deschribe to 
poor Murphy what the atom is ye're afther mintion- 
ing?" 

" It's the smallest imaginable division of matter — 
the ultimate particle, than which there can be none 
less. Out of such primordial atoms the universe is 
built." 

" Begorra ! but Fd like to scratch me head, now I 
That's one of the priviliges a dead man is denied. 
You've the better of me there, me f rinds. I dare say 
nobody would do me the favor to frictionate me bumb 
o' mathematics ? " 

" Why that particular bumb, supposing you had 
Buch an one ? " inquired Harry, laughing. 

" Just nothing at all. I was only wondering how 
you could find the little darlint afther putting him 
outside o' matliematics intirely. Is aich one o' the 
little craythurs a free agint, thin, wid a stubborn will 
of his own ? Ko ? He don't move hissilf, thin, ov 
c<x)r8e. He's bctther off than a king or a flaa, in one 
respect — he's never thrubbled wid parasites. Can any 
miniber of this rispictid assimbly tell me who docs 



864 ^ CLUSTER OF WHITE EOSE& . 

shall still say to myself, with the assurance which 
comes from within, ^ I know that my Bodeemer 
liveth.' " 

" There, then I you are a dear little girl, Marion. 
If there were not so many scientists present I would 
kiss away the tears I have been so heartless as to bring 
to your eyes. You must not be sad to-night, for my 
sake ! This is one of the happiest days of my life, so 
far. And happier ones are in store ! " 

" Why, what has happened to make this one of your 
red-letter days, Aligre ? " 

" I will tell you to-morrow. My &ecret is too pre- 
cious to be disclosed before all these people. How 
early may I come % 

" Oh, about four, I shall be busy until then." 

" Come I to-morrow will be Saturday — vote your- 
self a holiday. I cannot think of deferring my visit 
until four in the afternoon." 

" Come to luncheon, then." 

" No, I will not even wait until luncheon." 

" It must be something highly im{)ortant, indeed ! 
Will yoja breakfast with us, Mr. Lowell ? " 

" Thank you, I must decline. But at ten o'clock 
A. M. yon must be sitting on the blue divan before 
the west windows of this saloon. I shall know yon 
by a white rose in your belt, mademoiselle! I shall 
pass tlie divan at tliat hour." 



A CLUSTER OF WHITE HOSES. 355 

" Quite a startling adventure! Well, if you find a 
young lady wearing white roees, and with a book in 
her hand, you may venture to speak to her." 

" Ten million thanks. And now good-night and 
sweet sleep ; 1 am going to slip away Quietly, before 
these others." 

" You are pale yet, Aligre, do be careful of your- 
self." 

"Yes, sweetest, for your sake. It is only the 
paleness of too divine a joy, I'm certain. Do not 
speak to Doctor Maxwell about it. Good-night, 
darling." 

" Good-night, Aligre." 

After these confidential adieus, he arose, said: 
" Good evening, Miss Guthrie " — in the most com- 
mon-place manner, and bowing deferentially to ray 
uncle's friends, went away. 

" Poor boy I I heard Uncle Maxwell say to a gentle- 
man near him. 

"I did not think, a year ago, that he would be alive 
to-day. But he is improving — may even outgrow the 
desease. I made him very happy to-day by telling 
him how much better he was." 

"Yet Aligre came near having one of his old 
attacks this evening, I thought. " He forbade me to 
tell uncle. I wonder if the good news of his improved 
good health is oZZ he has to communicate 1 " 



356 ^ CLU8TBR OF WHITE ROBES. 

I arose the next morning with a very light heart. 
It was very early in March, but tho Biin was warm 
and the sky a real spring blue, tender and soft A 
faiat odor of young grass and of English violets came 
up to my window from the little square of garden 
snngly sheltered within stone walls. The sunshine 
and the frenh air seemed full of all sorts of sweet 
promises. Spring was coming! — so waa Aligre, at 
ten o'clock I If my love was not as glad and triumph- 
ant as that of other girla whose lovers were not tho 
victims of cruel ill-health, it was a thousand times 
deeper and fonder. The shadow in which it grew bad 
taken something from its color, but it reached heaven- 
ward witli all the greater eagerness. 

I do not deny that I half -divined the story which 
Aligre was to tell me that morning. His glowing 
eyes had more tliau half betrayed it. I made myself 
as pretty as possible, while my swift-beating heart 
kept sending waves of n«e-color over my face. I saw 
nnclc smiling at me with a benevolent and somewhat 
teasing smile, as I sat uear him at breakfast : ' 

" Has Aligre mentioned to you what he and I have 
been talking about the last few days ? " he asked mc, 
after a while. 

"No, uncle, but he is to tell me this morning. It 
must be something important, siuoe it would not wait 
for tlio afternoon." 



A CLUSTER OF WHITE ROSES. 357 

" Then I need not look for your aid in the black- 
room ? " 

^' I suppose not I have concluded to made this a 
holiday, uncle." 

" I am glad to hear you say so, Marion," remarked 
Aunt Maxwell. " You aretoo much of a student for 
a girl of your age." 

" She does not look as if she had suffered from it. 
Look at her cheeks this morning, my dear I Do you 
call them 

' Sicklied o'er with the pale oast of thought ? * *' 

." Oh, she is well enough, Doctor. But I would 
like to have her go out more and be a little fonder 
of the tilings which girls of eighteen usually take 
to — dressing, visiting, dancing, young society." 

" She is doing well enough, my love." 

" Oh yes ! and I am as happy as a human being can 
expect to be, auntie ! you must not ask me to care 
much for the society of young people, when I love 
you and uncle " 

" With me to supply all deficiencies," interrupted 
Ilarry. 

" Of course I I should have forgotten to mention 
that." 

" To say nothing of the other young gentleman who 
absorbs all her spare moments. I don't wonder she 
is indifferent to the multitude." 



358 -i CLUSTER OF WBITS R08B8. 

" I am certainly a veiy fortunate girl, conein Harry." 

" And wise enough to know when you are well off I 
What an example for the rest of ns! " 

" Do you go to Boston this afternoon, as nsual % " 

" Yes, mademoiselle. I must now bid you farewell 
until Monday afternoon. A little hird tells me that 
you will not be lonely in my absence," and Harry left 
the table und stroiledinto the t^nservatory. I hastily 
linished iny coffee and went after him — he was mak- 
ing up a most extravagant bouquet, fairly robbing the 
place. 

" It's all very well for Nellie to have two-thirds of 
the tluwei-s that bud in this house, Harry ; bnt she 
can't iiave that bunch of wliite i-oses, you have just 
cut." 

" Wliy not i " 

" I want it myself." 

"Oh, indeed I " 

" I must have it cousin, please." 

"There it is, then, selfish creature I I wanted it 
particularly." 

" But not so particularly as I do. It becomes us 
all to be selfish once in a while. ITnlras I wear a 
white rose I shall not be recognized by the gentleman 
I Hm going to mecL" 

Harry stared at me in incredulous astonishment. I 
laughed, and ran off with tlie spray of rosea. 



A CLU8TSB OF WHITE ROSEB. 



359 



A little before ten, with the white flowers in my 
belt and hair, I went into the deserted saloon, book in 
hand, and took my seat on the blue divan. I did not 
read much — the letters danced before my eyes, but 
my sense of hearing gained in acutcncse — -I started 
and blushed when I heard the door close in the hall 
below, and became, apparently, deeply absorbed in 
the volume, blank of all meaning to me. 

It was a new thing for me to feci thus shy and per- 
plexed at the thought of Aligre's coming, I think I 
knew what he wanted to say just as well then as T did 
afterwards. But when we are very happy we can 
afEord to coqnet with our happinoea. 




CHAPTER XXnL 



OLAD ABSUKAHOB 



" Hon cloae and cIcm his f ootatepa wind : 
The magic roosic In his heart 
Be«ta quick and quicker, till be find 

The qniet chamber far apart 
His ipirit Snttera like a lack. 
Be Btoopt — to Uhb bei — on his knee. 
' Love, if th; treHaea be bo dark, 

How dark those bidden eTea must be T'" 

RESENTLY I lieard a voice, which I liardlj 
recognized, low and repressed, yet with i 
Uirill o£ exultation breakiug tliruugh its re 
Btraint : 

" Here are the wliite rosea and the gold hair, an< 
the eyee ' divinely dark * — this must be the lady." 

I raised my eyes witli a blush, exactly as if thii 
Tiaitor were a stranger, for a spirit bad taken pos 
session o£ ray grave friend which made me a littli 



A QLAD ASSURANCE. 3bl 

afraid of him — raised my eyes, and met a look which 
hun-ied my pulses and confused me beyond all 
reason ; the look of a conqueror to whom I felt that 
I was foredoomed to surrender. Laughing a little, 
Aligre sat kown by my side. lie put his arms about 
me, and with those dazzling looks beating down my 
own, he asked me : 

" Does my Marion guess what our good friend and 
imcle has given me permission to say to her? " 

I sliook my head, quite unable to speak a word. 

" Cannot guess ! IIow dull her wits have grown, 
all in a moment I Fortinie has had her foot on my 
neck long enough. I am now raised to be her equal. 
I am rich who was poor. The sentence against me 
is remanded. Oh, you know what I want to tell you, 
little witch, well enough I Doctor Maxwell says you 
shall be my wife just as soon as ever you can pre- 
pare for so great an event I " 

" Doctor Maxwell says ! He is very presumptuous 
to " 

" Yes, I know, a terribly severe, uncompromising 

person ! But he has said it and it must be so I 

There is no appeal from him. Marion," speaking 

with sudden solemnity, " I never hoped for this 

until the last few days. I am like one taken from a 

dungeon and set in the sunlight ; I am dazzled with 

my own happiness. I should not have kno^vu how 
16 






362 ^ GLAD A88URANCE. 

far apart from the joys and hopes of other men I was 
set, had I not now regained my liberty. This does 
not seem to me die same world as the one I am ac- 
customed to. Tell me tliat you, too, are perfectly 
happy." 

" I am, Ah'gre ; only I do not half believe it — the 
change is too great." 

^'The change has not been so sudden as the 
knowledge of the change. 1 have been steadily 
improving for some time. Now, my darling, your 
uncle does not assure me long life, by any means. 
It may still be extremely selfish in me to wish to 
bind you to my fate. What he does say is this — 
he thinks that I am now so well that I have a good 
chance of living many years, and that I shall be 
no worse oflF, married than unmarried ; but may be 
this much better : that I shall be more contented in 
mind, and consequently have more of that repose 
necessary to improvement. He said, very candidly, 
that he would prefer his dear niece to marry some 
man in perfect health ; but that a woman like yon 
would rather sacrifice yourself than not, and that he 
supposed it was too late to expect you to m^ke a 
wiser choice." 

"lie was quite right there. Uncle knows very 
well that I will never love any man but yon, 
AUgre.'' 



A OLAD ASSURANCE. 363 

" And he docs not absolutely deny, even when he 
demurs, my sweet, tliat you and I being what we 
are, may as well have what happiness there is in the 
cup of life, though the draught be brief." 

" Yes, AHgre, I am willing to be your wife even 
if I were certain of a long and dreary widowhood. I 
want you to have the comfort of knf»wing that I love 
you too utterly to care for any consequences not 
injurious to you. But, Aligre, perhaps God has in 
store for you more years of life than you have been 
taught to expect. A terrible weight has gone from 
my breast. I did not know how heavy it was, how 
unceasing its pressure, until these tidings about your 
health lifted it. Oh, it is rapture to breathe a long, 
free breath, once more I " 

" Yes, Marion, I cannot realize that I am the same 
creature who went moping about this weary world 
a month ago. Look at me, darling, do I look like 
the same man ? " 

"Your eyes are intolerably bright; I can't face 
them more than a minute at a time. And it seems 
to me you grew a little tyrannical. Look out, or I 
shall refuse to believe you are my Aligre. These 
sudden changes are trying." 

" Put away that book and attend to me, my lady. 
I shall be tyrannical, no doubt, and I may as well 
begin at once, by demanding your whole time and 



364 



A GLAD ASaUBANCE. 



thoughts from this hour forward* When will you 
oome over to niy house to live \ — next week f " 

" No, indeed, sir ; nor next month ! Have I 
really to go with you when the time comes? I 
had not thought of that. That makes it a very 
serious matter. I prefer you to come here.** 

" But Doctor and Mrs. Maxwell may not prefer it 
Why should you be afraid to come to my home f 
My father likes you exti-emely — my mother loves you 
because you love me. There will never be so warm 
a welcome as you will receive, little Marion.'' 

" But it is dreadful, nevertheless," I said, thought- 
fully. 

"Marion," said Aligre, growing thoughtful too, 
" I want you to become my wife as soon as possible. 
Let no formalities stand between ns. You need no 
great preparations of dress and ceremony. We will 
be married very quietly some sweet spring day — 
send the housekeeper at Drowsydell word to expect 
us — and go up there and spend a week or two. You 
are too precious to me, and my tenure of happiness 
is still too uncertain, for us to afiFord to waste one 
day apart which might be ours together." 

" It shall 1)e as you wish, Aligre, only I must first 
consult my aunt and uncle. Whatever uncle says 
is for your good, that I will do." 

Of course my lover covered my hand with kisBef 



A QLAD ASSURANCE. 365 

and said I was an angel — it is not necessary to 
repeat all the folly of such an occasion ; but it may 
be inferred that we were as much happier than lovers, 
in general, as hitherto we had been hopeless. The 
hours of that Saturday flew on swift and gilded 
wings. I could hardly believe my senses when a 
servant looked into the saloon to ask why Miss 
Guthrie did not come to luncheon. Everybody 
smiled on us — for Aligre remained to lunch — even 
the men in waiting. I began to believe in the 
reality of what had seemed like a dream, when my 
aunt, after dismissing the servants from the room, 
congratulated us on our engagement, and very feel- 
ingly wished Aligre many years of happiness. She 
asked us if wo had set the day. I replied that I 
preferred leaving that to her ; she consulted uncle, 
and between us all, it was arranged, before we left 
the table, that the marriage should take place in six 
weeks. 

" It will be too early to go to Drowsy dell," she 
objected, when Aligre spoke of his wish. 

^* I would like it better than any other place in the 
world, even if it were wrapped in snow," he said ; 
" it was there I met Marion, you remember." 

" And now, off with you, to the Tnatin^e, or you 
will be late," added Uncle Maxwell. " I will order 
the carriage while you are changing your dress 



w^Nto 



L 



366 ^ OLAD ASaURANCE. 

Marion. You can make a fresh toilet ia fifteen 
minutes, I know." 

" Be sure and keep the white roses," added Aligre. 

" But they are withering." 

^^ Never mind! I like them better than fresh 
ones." 

In a few minutes a pair of lovers, filled with 
heavenly content, sat side by side in the swiftly- 
whirling carriage. Oh, how Nilsson sang tJiat after- 
noon ! The tears of the happy come as easily as 
those of the wretched, and I wept over the sorrow of 
"Margaret," wiping my eyes furtively, and often 
thinking of our Margaret far away in Paris with the 
man whom she loved with her heait and not with 
her reason. 

We came home in the soft dusk together, my hand 
nestled in Aligre's. The soft, wet wind that blew 
about the streets was full of the promise of grass and 
flowers to come about Drowsydell, before we went 
there. I began to hope that my lot was not going to 
be so different from that of other girls. I did not 
think so much of myself as of Aligre. I was so glad, 
so grateful, that he was to have a firmer hold on life. 

" But you are tired now. You must go home and 
lie down," I said, when he wanted to go in the house 
with me, on our return. 

" I shall rest better here. I will lie on the lounge 



A OLAJD ASSURANCE, 3(j7 

in the library, and you shall sit by me. To look in 
your eyes will be better than taking medicine." 

He had his way. I had promised to give up iny 
time to him, and he exacted it. He lay on the 
lounge, and I read to him for nearly an hour before 
dinner. There was something like color on his mar- 
ble face ; and a sweet expression of repose that made 
him, at least in my eyes, beautiful. 

After dinner he went home, promising to retire 
very early. 

" Has it been a red-letter day % '* was one of his 
questions, at parting. " I ought not to be away from 
you at all," he said, lingering, and adding, with a 
smile to see me blush, 

*< < But there wiU come a tiine, my love, 
When, if I read our stars aright, 
I shaU not linger by this porch 
With my adieus, — till then, good night.' " 

Aunt and uncle were like indulgent parents to 
spoiled children, to Aligre and me, the following 
weeks. I think their disappointment in Margaret^s 
marriage, and their feeling for the loss of her socie- 
ty, made them exceedingly tender towards me. I 
still aided uncle in his experiments, and quite fin- 
ished transcribing his notes. All the rest of my time 
I ga\ e up unreservedly to Aligre. My simple wed- 



388 A OLAD ASSURANCE. 

ding outfit was being made np by experienced fin- 
gers; aunt told me not to trouble my head about it 
at all ; she would attend to it ; I had my hands full 
in taking care of a very selfish lover! I wrote to 
Margaret, of course, about our prospects, reviving 
in due time a most affectionate reply, and a pi-esent 
of the costly veil, ordered for her own wedding, but 
never worn. I looked at the exquisite film of lace 
with a shiver — y^t why I shivered I couid not have 
told. Perhaps because it brought back a vivid 
memory of how wretched we all were that evening 
of Margaret's flight. 

" I do not think I shall wear it," I reflected, " it is 
too splended for so simple a toilet as mine will be, 
and it may bring ill luck." I wonder if there is 
anything in the fortune-tellers' lore about wearing 
the bridal veil of a bride who failed to wear it, or to 
keep her word ! " 

It wiis almost absurd to see the interest Aligre 
took in my wedding-dress and the trousseau in gen- 
eral. He was more particular about it than I was. 
Aunt laughed at him to me, and said, "she supi^sed 
his being an invalid gave him tlie tastes of a lady." 

It was true he had nothing to do but devote him- 
self to me. 

The April weather was more like that of May than 
it had been for years. 



/ 



A OLAD ASSURAirCE. 869 

"We shall have apple-blossoms and violets up at 
Drowsydell," Aligre announced to me about a week 
before the day set for our marriage. " I shall enjoy 
seeing the orchards in bloom. They make the world 
look like fairy-land. Drowsydell will wear one of 
its sweetest phases to welcome us, my darling." 

It was wonderful to see the improvement in him. 
I looked at him in doubt, many times each day. His 
countenance was bright, and he had none of those 
spells of extreme lassitude or extreme pain which 
once tormented him. I almost forgot that possible 
danger still existed. Every cloud drifted out of my 
heaven, leaving it calm and clear. I was so absorbed 
in present happiness that, although I thanked God 
gratefully every night — though my thoughts sang 
His praises every day — ^I humored Aligre's request 
that I should not approach him on religious topics 
for three months. 

The Sabbath before the wedding-day, as we were 
sitting alone together in the saloon before a picture 
of the Virgin and tlie Child, he surprised me by say- 
ing: 

'* Marion, happiness has done more to convert me 
to your way of thinking than all the misery in the 
world ever could. I am ready to bow the knee 
before the Lord my God, and thank Him humbly 
for breaking down my stubborn unbelief. My feel- 



370 -^ QLAD AB8UBJL21CB. 

ing for joa teaches me the worth of immortality. It 
is a boon, awful ia ite Bublimitj. We cannot be 
worth}' of it — no humau'tsreatare can merit it — bat 
He has bestowed it, and it is no plaything, we may 
be sure. It pate us to the tonch to do our best Our 
noblest use of our talents is but poor." 

" Yea, Aligre, only through the Redeemer can we 
be made worthy." 

" I have not gone so far as to feel that, yet. Christ, 
the Sou of God, is not admitted in my faith, so far. 
But you shall give mo your ideas sometime, Marion. 
Meantime, if I die suddenly, or away from ytm, 
yon must always remember that I do not perish 
lilte a brute — tliat 1 look for you to keep your 
promise, and come to me, tlie same Marion whom 
I left" 

He kissed me, smiling ; but I turned pale under 
his kisB. 

" I do uot want yon to speak so— not to-day, Ali- 
gre — about death. God is to give us our wish in this 
world, I feel sure." 

" I tliought it would please you to hear of my 
change of views." 

" Ah, s-j it doesl You are my best, noblest Ali- 
gns, now! I know tliat I should not weary Heaven 
witli ju'tiyers in vain. I have nothing left to ask 
for HOW I I have everything! Come, Aligro, let us 



A GLAD ASSURANCE. 371 

go to the front windows, and see if the people are 
retnming from church." 

"I have frightened yon, Marion. Where have 
your roses gone ! I did not speak as I did, of sadden 
death, to make you uncomfortable. The thought 
came to me and I expressed it." 

"I thank you for it, Aligre," and as we arose to 
walk to tlie window, I put my arms about his neck, 
and clung to him with a wild passion of love and 
fear, as if something were tearing him from me. 

Then, all at once, I remembered that such exhibi- 
tions of feeling were not wise in liis presence, and I 
lifted a smiling face, saying, lightly: 

" I am a little nervous to-day. I believe it is always 
permitted to girls to be * nervous,' when tlie last week 
of single blessedness arrives. I wish Nellie and 
Harry had concluded to be married when we are. 
Nellie's mother is very strict in keeping them to the 
prescribed year." 

" I don't care who marries or who does not, so 
long as you and I go up to Drowsydell together. 
Look ! do you see that cherry-tree in our neighbor's 
garden ? There, between the two houses, a branch 
oi it is reaching out. It is white with blossoms, my 
swec^t — almost as white as that dress lying up-stairs 
— almost as white as my darling's soul, my little 
wife-to-bc. Next Sunday, whcT^ ^\VV ^o>x ^vvl 1 Vsfe<. 



872 ^ QLAD ASSURANCE. 

Walking up and down the piazza of the old country- 
manBion, listening to the birds, aiid breathing the 
breath of the rosy apple-blossoms.'' 

The people trooped by, going home from church ; 
the spring sunshine tried to warm the brown-stone 
pavements; we stood idly watching the world go 
by, but wrapped in each other, and dreaming of our 
blessed future — a future so bright in comparison to 
that which we had anticipated, that every day, al- 
most every hour, we asked ourselves, — " Can it bef 

It was a long delicious day that Sunday. Harry 
forbore to tease the pair of lovers, too thoroughly 
contented to care whether or not he ridiculed their 
sentimentality. 

Every one smiled on them, even Mr. Murphy — at 
least, we concluded that he was making the attempt, 
for he said to us, in a very jocular way, as we passed 
him in the twilight, on our way down to Sunday tea: 

" Me heart is broke intirely to think yer going to 
f ursake poor Murphy in a day or two. It's been one 
o' the chafe solaces o' me solitude, dangling here like 
a thafe from a gibbet, to kape an eye on yeee two 
turthcl doves. Ye've done up yer coorting in the 
l>urtie8t way imaginable — ^niver a single lover's quar- 
rel, for the bliss o' making up. Yer going to get a 
swate wife, Lowell, me boy, as fair and as fresh as a 
j-ose. You must \x^^ \iw ««* Si ^^ "«^^ ^ ^Vduy cup. 



A OLAD ASSURANCE. 373 

I wish ye all the blissings ov this world ! but I can't 
wish ye one as isn't yours already. Youth, Beauty, 
Love and Gold! Ouch, murther? I'm that jealous 
I could ate meself wid spite. 'But ivery dog 
must have his day,' — I've had mine, an' a mighty 
brief day it was. Me candle was no more than nicely 
lighted till a brick on me head from the top ov a 
six-story building snuffed it out, as Shakespare says. 
May yees have betther luck I A long life to yees ! is 
the best wish Pathrick Murphy can wish yees. May 
it be an hundred years until the wind blows between 
yer ribs like it does through mine. Whin yees come 
to the wedding-faste imagine I'm there and drink a 
toast for poor Murphy, an' God bless ye, my purty 
lady. I only wish I could hobble down to the dining- 
room and propose the bride's health on the happy 
day." 

I detected Uncle Maxwell's eyes fixed on Aligre, 
in undisguised pleasure and admiration more than 
once, during the time we were at table. I did not 
wonder at it. There never was a face so finely beau- 
tiful as Aligi*e's when lighted up as his was then. It 
glowed not only with a bridegroom's joy, but with a 
diviner expression, as if the conclusions to which he 
had )*ecently come were illuminating an inner temple, 
hitherto dark. 

"Marion," he said, when we parted that night, 



374: ^ QLAD AB8UBANCB. 

'^ tell me that you are happier thau joa ever were 
before — that you are satisfied with me at last." 

^^ I am satisfied and happier than I have words to 
tell you. I am going to my room to be alone with 
God and thank Him. O Aligre! was there ever 
another girl who had so many reasons for being glad 
and grateful as I have ? " 

We were alone in the front drawing-room when 
he said good-night. I wanted to accompany him to 
the hall door, but a servant was there in attendance, 
so I remained where I was. 

'' Good-bye, Marion. Very soon there will be no 
more partings." 

With his kiss on my lips and the smile in my heart 
which he flashed back on me as he went out into the 
hall, I ran to the window, drew the curtain, and 
peered out into the dim street for a last glimpse of 
him as he walked away. 

I am not the only fond and foolish girl who has 
done this. I did not succeed in seeing him, but I 
heard the echo of his steps fading away in the dis- 
tance. 





CHAPTER XXIV. 



GOOD-NIOHT, SWEET. 



*^ But oh, the night I Oh, bitter-sweet ! Oh sweet I 

O dark, O moon and stars, O ecstasy 

Of darkness I O great mystery of love, — 

In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treason^s self 

Enlarges rapture — as a i)ebble dropt 

In some full wine-cup, overbrims the wine I 

While we two sat together, leaned that night 

So clone. My very garments crept and thrilled 

With strange electric life ; and both my cheeks 

Grew red, then pale, with touches of my hair 

In which his breath was.*' 

— Mrs. Browning, 



t( 



To-night we ait together here. To-morrow night 

will come ah, where?" 

— Owen Meredith, 



'IlILE we were lingering over the breakfast 
table the following morning, two people 
walked in as quietly as if tliey had just 
come from up-stairs. 




k 



\ 



/ 



376 OOOD-NIOHT, SWEET. 

" Good ! We are not too late for one of Th^bot'a 
excellent breakfasts," said a voice that astoniahed ns. 

'^ And, what is better, thanks to a favorable voy- 
age, we are not too late for the wedding." 

It was Mr. and Mrs. Vervelde. 

Vervelde's voice, easy, smooth, low-toned, self- 
possessed, as it always was ; Margaret's cool and soft 
as the toach of a flower. There was no scene. My 
aunt sprang up and embraced her child — ^her father 
kissed her — for a minute I was in doubt whether he or 
Harry would acknowledge Vervelde's presence. 

The hesitation was evident ; but, after one look in 
his daughter's face, uncle turned and shook hands 
with her husband* 

In my impulsive way I was hugging and kissing 
my cousin, and divesting her of hat and wrappings 
all at once. 

" Did you really come all this way to see me mar- 
ried ? " I asked, with another embrace. 

'^ I don't know that I did," she answered in that 
old, candid way of hers ; '^ I think I was taken with 
a fit of homesickness shortly after writing to you ; 
so I asked Reginald if we could not come over for a 
few weeks. 

" And you return to Paris ? " 

" Oh, yes — in June." 

"Well, I am glad you c^me to-day.'' 



/ 



OOOD'NIOHT, SWEET. 377 

" Is the wedding to-morrow, then ? " 

" The day after," I answered, with a little blush, 
and glancing up met Vei^velde's eyes fixed on me 
with a smile that deepened the rising color until I 
felt that my face was scarlet — the smile was such a 
mocking Mephistophelian one. 

I quite felt, for a little while, that the pleasure of 
having my adored cousin with me at this important 
period was not so great as the annoyance of her hus- 
band's presence. 

One thing I would teach him ! that he could never 
make me blush again, and that I resented all signifi- 
cant looks from him as an impertinence. 

Yet I was very glad to see Margaret. None of us 
could look at her enough — her parents' eyes devoured 
her, and Harry acted as if he had taken champagne. 
It was evident thatThebot in the kitchen remembered 
her tastes, for he sent up her favorite dishes, with 
freshly-made coffee, in magically quick time. While 
tlie travellers breakfasted and we talked of everything 
in kaleidoscope fashion, 1 tried to make out what the 
change was that liad come over Margaret. 

She was fairer and colder than ever. Wliat had 
once been only reserve in her now appeared to be 
actual haughtiness. Vervelde seemed very fond of 
her and very proud of her. 

That he should be so devoted to her, and she love 



378 QOOB'NIQET, BWEET. 

him as she had proven she loved him, left me only one 
conjectare or inference to make as to the reason of a 
certain snbtle, underlying sadness, which revealed it- 
self in her deep eyes. 

It mast be that the intimate association of married 
life had proved to her, what she had felt before, that 
she could not be thoroughly happy with a man whom 
she could only half respect — who was fickle, artful, 
and in a measure unprincipled, though one of the 
most brilliant and pleasing of men of the world. 
There were depths in my cousin's nature which 
must forever lie out of reach of such companion- 
ship ; tliat which was noblest in her must go un- 
mated. 

I thought of Aligre with a glow of enthusiasm, 

Nevertheless, I made him a little jealous that day, 
for it was a busy one, and I could not be with him all 
the time. He came in just as we were leaving the 
breakfast-room. If he was surprised to see the Ver- 
veldes, they were equally surprised to note the im- 
provement in him which the winter had effected. 
Not one man in a thousand looked in such perfect 
health as Mr. Lowell then did. 

" I will say that I approve your choice, Marion. 
Aligre is simply superb," Verveldc whispered to me 
at the first opportunity, putting on a look of ma^^ 
nanimity. 



Q00D'NIGH1\ 8WEET, 379 

Margai'et took evident pleasure iu seeing ns lovers 
together. " You will have a happy life, I know," she 
said, when we were alone together. " It does me 
good to see such a pair. Papa assures me that Aligre 
has almost outgrown his heart-trouble." 

We left the gentlemen to amuse themselves without 
us for what probably was to them an unreasonably 
hmg time ; but what woman is there who does not 
like to show her wedding finery to her friends, or 
what other woman who does not like to look at it ? 
Margaret admired everything, and added some pretty 
trifles which she had hastily selected before leaving 
Paris. 

" You will wear the veil I sent you, Marion ? " 

" It is much too splendid for the accessories, cousin — 
quite out of place. I have a plain tulle one arranged. 
Let me suggest that you send the point-lace one to 
Nellie." And so it was arranged. 

" Now that Madge has come, I have telegraphed 
for Nellie," said Harry, at luncheon. " She will be 
here at seven this evening." 

'^ It is all right, though I had not thought to sug- 
gest it," replied aunt. 

" Oh, Lowell is not going to put on any of those airs 
of exclusiveness," laughed Harry, " my Nellie is 
plenty good enough to come to his wedding." 

And so, with jest and earnest, we had a gay little 



380 QOOD-JfieST, 8WBBT. 

feast, at which I was happier than I had e 
my life. 

There had been times when the shadow s 
hirk behind iia, we were so in the habit, as it wer^ 
of dreading it. But this day all foreboding was 
ended. To-morrow would be our marriage-day. My 
friends were all in high spirits. The weather was 
Buuny, the house was bright, ^fts of friends arrived 
every little while — I was not only happy, bnt I was 
almost extiavagantly gay. My yoatlifiil spi-rits, from 
having been often and long repressed, now rose the 
more lightly. 

After luncheon nncle took Allgre to the library, 
where he preached to him, I suppose, quite a sermon, 
all about the care of his health. 

Some time during the afternoon there arrived from 
Di-owsydell two or three bashel-basketa of cut flowers 
and an unlimited quantity of smilas — who would bo- 
licivtithat tlio delicate odor of roses, heliotrope, violets 
and orange-blossoms could become things as terrible 
as " sheeted gliosis ? " How we revelled in the ar- 
rangeinont of tliOEC delicious flowers on tliat bridal- 
c\-c 1 Ah! how appalling have the sight and the per- 
fume of such blossoms been to me since then I 
. " Xow, mind," called uncle, as Aligre and I, after 
every arrangement for the morrow was perfected, 
stole np to the saloon for a sweet half-hour of each 



OOOD'NIOHT, SWEET. 381 

other's society — " the house closes at ten precisely. 
No late hours to-night, unless you wish the bride to 
look pale and the bridegroom stupid." 

"Must we be subject to that Persian law ? " sighed 
Harry, who was walking up and down the drawing- 
room with Nellie. " lleraember, stem parient, that 
Nellie and I have been separated almost a fortnight." 

" Lights out at ten," was the inexorable response. 

Aligre and I found a seat on the blue divan, and I 
held in my lap some white roses like those I had worn 
in sport that morning he had come to tell me that my 
uncle had consented to our engagement. Quite near 
us, on her pedestal, stood a Psyche, the loveliest piece 
of sculpture in the room — a divine creation, who 
seemed to breathe as she bent with wondering rapture 
over the buttei-fly which hovered on her liand. Ali- 
gre looked at the statue f<^r some time ; his face had 
something of the same wonder and rapture shining in 
it. 

" I, too, have found a soul," he said, smiling on me. 
Taking the roses fiom my lap he twisted them into a 
wreath, and rising, crowned with it the gleaming 
head of Psyche. The words, the action and the look 
expressed to me his new feeling about the subject we 
had so often discussed. My eyes mirrored his smile, 
and, without any remark from me, he knew I under- 
stood his meaning and was satisfied. 



882 OOOD-NIQltT, 8WSST. 

We were only very earthly lovers for the neit half 
hotir : yet, I auapeet we " felt tlie badding wiogs of 
angelf." I know we glorified oaraelves — it ib the way 
of love. 

Suddenly the cuckoo, in his niche half-way ap the 
grand stair-case, called out to ns ten times. Aligro 
at once heeded the hlrd, and rose to go. He held me 
to his heart a hleesed minute, gave me a dazzling look, 
whispered " to-morrow, Marion," — and ^vas gone. I 
stood, thrilled and trembling, nntil I heard tlie hall- 
door close. That door between Aligre and nie shut 
very softly and securely. The shutting of a door be- 
tween friends or lovers is as common an occurrence 
as it is commonplace. 

Butafter it, I wanted on this evening to see no one. 
Slipping into my room, I turned down the light for 
fear some one would come and speak to me, and in 
tlie darkness, with the sweet perfume of flowers heavy 
about me, I crept to my happy pillow. 




CHAPTER XXV. 



THE DAY OF DAYS. 




** From tho g^arden just below 
Little puffs of perfume blow.*' 

— Longfellow, 

*^ Bj angfuish which made pale the sun 
I hear Him charge His saints that none 
Among the creatures anywhere 
Blaspheme against Him with despair, 
However darkly days go on/' 

— Mn, Browning, 



AWOKE very early the next morning, before 
it was light I heard a stray robin twittering 
in the morning twilight close to the vine 
which clambered up to my window from the garden 
below. I do not know what aroused me so early — it 
seemed to me as if there were some stir in the house, 
and that I had heard the front hall door close —bat if 
so, all was now quiet. Once awake, I could not aleei; 



884 THB DAT OF DATS.' 

a^isii). For many sweet and happy thoughte crowded 
into my brain to permit any more slumbering. This 
was Monday; on Wednesday I would bo Maxion 
Grutbrie no longer. 

The ari-augemcnta made were for a very quiet wed- 
ding. Even Nellie was not to come from Boston. 
There were to be a few intimate friends of our two 
families; the ceremony was to be performed at tlie 
house ; there was to be a cosy, pleasant wedding- 
breatfaat ; and Aligre and I were to take an early 
afternoon train for Drowsydell, there to spend our 
honeymoon in absolute solitude. 

This was a whim nf Aligre's, and approved by my 
uncle, on account of Mr. Lowell's bealtli. Uncle 
Maxwell had even taken the trouble to go np to 
Drowsydell and eee, with his own eyes, that every- 
thing was in readiness, the house well-aired, and 
suitable pi-ovision made for our small housekeeping. 

I lay ill iny bed staring, through the slowly growing 
dawn, at the wreath of wax-floweis around the c«r- 
iiice, and recalling the details of the all-absorbing 
a£Fair. I hoped that Aiigre would like my drees ; 
that I should not be frij^htened during the ceremony ; 
that the day would be fair. I thought of the few, 
but beautiful presents', I had received ; my heart beat 
quickly with all the thronging emotions of a girl bo 
Boon to be a wife. 



THE DAT OF DATS. 385 

The robin trilled more loudly at my window. I 
thought of the winged delight of birds, wondering if 
they had any consciousuess of their Creator, when 
they soared and circled under His blue ether. 

Once or twice, I vaguely recalled the sound of the 
door, shut sharply and quickly, which had aroused 
me. The idea faintly occurred to me that uncle 
might have been called out. He was not a practising 
physician, but occasionally went, at the request of a 
friend, to attend some critical case. Then the re- 
membrance of how I had been awakened slipped away 
and was lost in sweet half -drowsy dreams of Aligre. 

I could see quite plainly the flowers on the cor- 
nice, though it was still some time to sunrise. I 
must have been awake about an hour. I heard the 
hall door again, and presently some one came slowly 
up the stairs and through the hall, directly past my 
door. The step was like uncle's, I thought, but tired 
and dragging. 

My curiosity was excited. Perhaps I had a possi- 
ble faint presentiment that something was going 
wrong with the family. I do not know. 1 started 
up in bed and listened. 

Some one spoke to Uncle Maxwell, almost oppo- 
site my door. She spoke in a whisper, but I recog- 
nized my aunt's voice. 

Something, surely, must be wrong or she would 
17 



I 



386 THE DAY OF DATSi 

not be oat of her bod. Light and swift as a spirit I 
slipped to the floor, flew to the door, opened it a little 
way and inclined my ear to hear what was being said. 
I thought of every one in the neighborhood that I 
knew, except Aligre. I don't think 1 thought of hiui. 
He was well, of course, for I had parted from him at 
eleven o'clock, and now it was only six in the morn- 
ing — scarcely that. 

The first words I heard were in my aunt's voice, 
and spoke in a strained whisper : 

" Oh, horror ! horror ! horror! '' 

" I would rather have given ten years out of my 
own life 1 '' said Uncle Maxwell, with a moan. 

I wondered if anything had happened to Margaret 
or to Vervelde. Had uncle been aroused by a tele- 
gram ? I wanted to rush out to my poor friends and 
moan with them, but something glued my feet to 
the floor. The robin swung down on to a spray be- 
fore the window and burst into a joyful carol. 

" Did you say there was a fire ? " 

" Yes. He awoke in the night and found his room 
full of smoke. He sprang up and ran out into the 
hall, where the gas is always left dimly burning. It 
was thick with smoke. He hurried to the door of his 
parents' room ; as usual it was locked, and he could 
not succeed in awakening them, while, to his great 
alarm, he saw l\iQ %mc^L<^ Sassvmi^ ix^xs^ ^uviemealii 



TEE DAT OF DATS. 887 

the door and judged tlie 5ro to be in that room. With 
admirable coohiess, he called a man-servant on the 
next floor, and, the two together burst tlie door from 
its hinges within tliree or four minutes of the firat dis- 
covery of the smoke. The bed-chaml)er was partly in 
flames ; the old people nearly insensible from suflFo- 
cation ; but they were di'agged out, water dashed in 
their faces and they soon revived. Meantime the 
fire, which was of no great extent, was extin- 
guished." 

" Oh, my poor boy ! my poor boy ! " moaned my 
aunt 

" Yes, it was a miserable mischance. lie seemed 
the least agitated of any of them ; the household 
congmtulated itself on a naiTOw escape from what 
might have been a serious accident Things were 
set as nearly to rights as possible. He went down 
to the library, saying he would rest tliere, on the 
lounge, as he knew he should not be able to get to 
sleep again in his room. About half-an-hour later 
John went softly in to see if everything was right, 
and found his j'oung master — dead. He was lying 
on the lounge, as calmly as if asleep. He must have 
been dead almost from the moment of his Ijnng 
down, for ho was cold when John touched him. 
They sent for me immediately, but it was of no 
avail They knew that from the fixat. Ha vcil^ 



3S8 THB DAT OF DATA 

have lived for yeare had no sach antoward accideDt 
occurred. Of course, it was the effect of the excite- 
ment." 

The blood in my veins congealed, drop by drop, 
ontil I felt myself to be a white image, made of 
snow, holding a living brain on which tlie whispered 
words of the speakers dropped like sparks of lire. 
But they had spoken no name, and I would fwt 
believe it. I tried to fling the door open and step 
oat and ask them who was dead. I could no more 
move or speak than ice could move or speak. 

The speakers, dark shadows of Fate in the dim 
hall, began to move away toward their own door. 

^^ Oh, what shall I do t I never, never shall be able 
to tell the truth to that poor girl," sobbed one of 
the strange shadows. 

" I must do it," said the other shadow, drearily, * 
and his voice seemed far away to me, and to issue 
forth out of a whirling darkness, " 1 must do it 
This is the blackest day of my life to me. Ali, how 
can 1 break the tidings to her \ It will kill her, no 
matter how tenderly I bring her to face the terrible 
fact. Aligrc is dead I Can I make any leas of it f 
Aligre Lowell is dead — dead." 

1 made my friends a great deal of trouble. I 
wanted them to \et Txi<d «\o\xft — \o l^^tme die — not to 



THE DAY OF DATS. 389 

« 

go to Aligre, for I no longer believed in his or my 
immortality — but to get out of my misery. They 
would not do it. I was ungrateful, sullen and 
wicked; but they bore with my w^aywardness and 
persisted in their efforts to save me. In June they 
took me to Europe. I saw Margaret and Verveldo ; 
but tliey, like other people, were as wooden images 
in whom I could take no real interest I saw the 
Alps mirror themselves in placid lakes; I walked 
wearily through wonderful cathedrals ; I saw the 
leaves fall in Yallambrosa; the Bay of Naples 
blush at the approach of night ; long galleries rich 
with storied art; ruins painted by the deceptive 
moonlight into the semblance of their youth. But I 
was like a shadow gliding among shadows. In the eight 
months that we spent abroad I was never once really 
awake. Aunt and uncle were very patient with me, 
as I say. Occasionally, aunt would give me a 
bitter reproach, as she would a bitter pill, for my 
gO(Kl ; but Uncle Maxwell never once complained of 
my conduct. 

Reginald and Margaret went to Italy with us. It 
made not the least difference to me whether or not 
they were of the party. When we came homo we 
left them in Paris. Uncle took advantage of the 
promise of fair weather in Januar}' to recross the 
ocean. Harry, who had delayed his marriage — which 



890 THB DAT OF DATS. 

was to have taken place early in the fall— -on account 
of my moiin)ing, was urgent for our i*etnm. 

He and Nellie were married at her mother's house 
in Boston, about a fortnight after our arrival home. 
I think all parties were nervous until the honeymoon 
was over— our unlucky experience on two previous 
occasions having had its effect. You see how calmly 
I set down my misfortunes with those of others. 

Selfish and useless as I liad become in my grief, I 
had conscience enough left to be glad for the family, 
when, the wedding-tour over, Nellie's sweet, spark- 
ling face shone at our fireside. 

I had tried my relatives sorely ; they had sorrowed 
with me and for me. If I was never to be anything 
again but a spiritless creature, whose looks put out 
the sunlight for others, it was well that a new ele- 
ment came to brighten the house which had so much 
cause to be a happy house. 

The effect of my suffering was to destroy all hope 
of the future for me. I said harsh things of the 
Lord of the Universe. I declared that lie had made 
man as a plaything with which to amuse Himself. 
He saw us caught in traps of Nature's invention, and 
stretched out no hand to save. 

Was there any use in prayer when I had prayed 
as I did the night that little accident had happened ! 
It was notliing to God — owlj «w little fire and smoke 



THE DAY OF DATS. 391 

from the ilame of a night-lamp coming in contact 
witli a swaying curtain, but it was everything to me I 
Aligre died in consequence of that trifling circum- 
stance. Aligre died — without a word, a look, he was 
taken from me. When I took the one glance at his 
dead face, as they told me to do, the morning before 
he was put away under the earth, to become, in due 
time, a part of it, and to arise again in grass and 
flowers, I felt then that I had been mistaken in 
asserting that his soul was alive and conscious — the 
jewel was somewhere blazing outside of its casket — 
when there was no proof of it, none ! When one's 
friends are alive, smiling into our faces, it is easy to 
say and believe it. But when Death has set his foot 
on them, trampling them out of existence, doubts 
will come. My mind, as active as tliat of the som- 
nambulist, who does strange work in his abnormal 
state, ran over all tlie arguments, ^>r& and oan^ that I 
had ever read or heard. It occurred to me that even 
those scientists of the day who acknowledge the 
creative act of an Intelligent Will in the beginning 
of things, have little or nothing to say about the 
future of man. In the one statement that conscious- 
ness is indestructible lies all they know of the im- 
mortality of man, and that he must share with every 
insect, brute, or creeping thing. As Du Bois-Ray- 
mond says : " No theological prejudice prevents him^ 



1 



■■iw 



392 THE DA Y OF DA T8. 

as it did DescarteA, from recognizing in the soiils of 
animals the relatives of the haman soul, and less 
perfect members of the same series of development" 
Is not this coDSciousness something personified in 
the individual, but when liberated from the brain, 
does it not lose its personality without losing its 
qualities? 

Oh, I am afraid so I I am afraid there is no 
spiritual semblance of my Aligre anywhere in this 
vast field of stars. 

You ask me if that last promise which Aligre made 
me was not a comfort to me ? Not in those days. I 
said to myself, ^^ I persuaded him, against his own 
reason ; he said it to please me. But he was right 
all the time, and I was wrong." 

In my own days of liope I had often, in my mind, 
wondered at the grief of Christians over a lost friend. 
It had even occurred to me that it was an argument 
against the sincerity of tlicir belief in a future 
life. 

I said, with Shakespeare's fool in * Twelfth Night: 

Clown, Good madanna, why moumest thoa ? 
Olivia, Good fool, for 1117 brothei*s death. 
Chton. I think his sool is in heU, madonna. 
OUzia. I know his soul is in heaven, fool. 
Clown. The more fool yon, madonna, to mourn for your 
brother^s soul being in heaven ; take away the fool, gentlemen. 



/ 



TEE DA T OF DA 78. 893 

I now saw plainly that this mourning was intense 
because faith was weak. Had I been certain that 
Aligre was waiting for me, as he had promised, I 
think 1 should have bjBen very patient. 

I have never told you how much I loved him — 
how beautiful he was — ^how he was admired by every 
one — how charming were his wit and animation 
when he was well enough to be himself. I may have 
hinted at these things, but I never more than hinted 
at them. I never praised him to you — never gave 
you more than a passing glance into my heart You 
may have thought that I, knowing the danger that 
lurked in waiting for him, never allowed myself to 
paint divine pictures of our life together on earth — 
that we were always calm, melancholy, cold. You 
are mistaken : it was not so. The cloud was always 
there, indeed, but our hopes broke out from under 
it in all the softer, warmer glory, as you have seen 
the sun, low in the west, play under the storm cloud 
in dazzling frolic. 

Death always does come suddenly, they say, even 
when long expected. Judge, then, whether I could 
be prepared, in the midst of my wedding-garlands, 
for the uprising of the Spectre who snatclied them 
from me. 

O my dear one! my darling! what a terrible 

mockery is life ! Fate made you beautiful and glo- 
17* 



394 "^BE BAT OF DATS. 

riouB only to turn you to dust and thro? 
ill my face. I was hard — I was bitter : 
the wretched and did not lift a finger to 
I said, " I am as uDhai>py as they can p 
hoW' can I assist them with their bun 
leaves tbein to shift for themselves — wl 
meddle ? " 

The dreary days dragj^ed on through 
der of a winter that seemed endless. I 
all day by a window of the saloon, when 
wat«hing the flakes drop, witli heavy, hei 
month hard-set in grim rebellion. I do 
that Nellie and Harry, good and kind aa 
kept away from me when they tonld. 
happy, and my settled gloom was a 
them. 

Only one thing cxjnld wile my tears 
deep refnge, and inspire me with a fee 
in the fntare — that was Ilcrr Halm's 
the organ. He would comu a little 
light of the dull daya of February and 
sit down quietly, without a word to it 
heavenly sonatas and all the divine ii 
church, until tlie dim air would be ci 
aat'ending and descending angels, and i 
my lost Aligre would steal to me on me 
rifls, and 1 would sob aload. WWeu the 



THE DAY OF DATS. 395 

away I would harden into my nsnal mood. I helped 
niy ancle in his laboratory and black room; but I 
was a mute and unenthusiastic assistant. After 
awhile, I began to read and study ; but now, the 
wonders of the microscope and of chemistry, the 
philosophy of the speculative, had a directly oppo- 
site bearing to their former one. I could see soul in 
nothing — only exquisite mechanism, intricate, exact 
mathematics. 

It was curious, and made me smile a cynic's smile 
to find my uncle now engaged in defeating his own 
previous arguments, and trying to prove to me the 
inherent probability of a future life. Dear nncle 1 
he was moved to it by love and pity for me. He 
saw tlie change in my views, and feeling that my 
only chance for happiness lay in a restoration of 
my former ardent anticipations of immortality, he 
argued for that as warmly as I had once done. 

Even the Skeleton, who had found solace in ever- 
lasting sleep, said to me, very gently, one evening, as 
I sat staring at his grinning countenance in a sort of 
shuddering fascination: 

" Och, me little darlint, don't look at me poor 
bones wid such woesome eyes. They are only bones 
at the most. Surely, me lady cannot think these 
thrifles of lime an' mortar, as it were, last longer than 
the poor devil of a Murphy, who used to use 'emi" 



396 J"^® ^^'^ OJ" HAYS. 

I turned quickly and stretched out my hands. It 
was dark, and I uould only indistinctly make out the 
figure leaning against a pillar near at huid ; bat I 
knew it mtist be Herr Hulm, who had played the 
part of Murphy so many times. 

"You used to be BO hard, Herr Helm; such a 
pitiless materialist. Do not treat me as a child, put- 
ting on a mask to amuse me. Kcmain what you are, 
and I shall like you better." 

" Ah, Fraulein Guthrie, it hurts me to see yon so 
listleBS, 80 hopeless, I will not pretend, since you 
are so severe, to a change of views ; but I will say 
that I have been diB&ppointed in you. Who knows 1 
If, in the crisis of your life, you had proved the 
strength of your faith, what influence you might 
have had over me andothere! But your proofs were 
not strong enough to resist the first trial. I ara 
sorry for you, Fraulein; I wish I could comfort you. 
As it is, I see but one course for you to pursue — get 
what good remains to you oat of this life I Cease to 
inoum the inevitable, and take all the pleasure 
offered. Tou have not lost all : you are young, and 
time will bring fresh interests." 

That is, forget Aligrc ; consign him to the utter 
iiLilivion from which the fading memories of his 
fiiends alone holds hira for a biief while ; find 
another lover, begin life over agaiol 



L 



THE DAT OF DATS. 397 

It was kind advice, well meant, and the only thing 
to be said or done under the circumstances ; but I 
did not thank Ilerr Halm for it. 

I had other friends, too, ready to proffer me equally 
hollow and judicious advice. I heard from one of 
these friends sometime in May — a little over a year 
after Aligre's death. I had a long letter from Mr. 
Grevdon ; the drift of it was that he was satisfied 
that he had chosen rightly at his second choosing — he 
was doing a great deal of good, he hoped, amoj)gst a 
rough and wicked people. He had been disappointed 
in many things which had once seemed to him of the 
first importance ; he was now willing to serve Christ 
in Christ's way. Could I say as much ? I, too, had 
been bitterly, cruelly disappointed. Would I take 
up my cross? Would it not be the best thing for 
both of us to join hands and work together for the 
salvation of the heathen ? Two would be stronger 
than one. As his wife I could be very useful. He 
asked me to consider and pray over it My little 
income would go a great way in a new settlement ; 
we could do much good witli it. He would be in 
New York — on business, to raise money to build a 
church in Pidgeon Wing — in a few days ; would I 
have my answer ready for him when he came? If it 
were favorable he should ask me to return with liim. 

When I first saw Gray Greydon in the cars, as 1 



\ 



398 TSB DA r OF DA TS. 

was travelling to my ancle's home, I had asked mj- 
Belf, " Is it poBsible that this will prove to be my 
hero I" 

When I met Yervelde, the same qaestion, but not 
so quickly, had arisen. 

But when I met Aligre Lowell, I knew from the 
first moment who the hero of my life was. There 
had heca no doubt or vacillation after the first irre- 
sistible conviction. 

Mr, Grejdon's letter gave me a profound Bhock : 
it also set me to thinking at the truth. 



s>^<»% 



^'Ayo^A 



sir; ^) 



itllU^i««- 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

LIGHT THROUGH THE OPEN DOOB. 

** Ck)d, the Creator, with a pulseless hand 
Of unoriginated power, hath weighed 
The dust of earth and tears of man in one 
Measure, and by one weight." 

— Mrs. Browning. 

^^ Death have we hated, knowing not what it meant ; 
Life have we loved, through green leaf and through sere, 
Though still the less we knew of its intent ; 
The earth and heaven through countless year on year, 
Slow changing, were to us but curtains fair 
Hung round about a little room, where play 
Weeping and laughter of man's empty day.** 

— WiBiam Morrii, 



\ 



^ f jr HAVE been writing out this tame record oi 
"^iygL a vivid experience during the Bumiuer at 

^SA Drowsydell. I was twenty years old last 
June. Thei^e is nothing in my sad little story of any 
importance, unless it may interest other girls, as 



\ 



N 



400 JJOBT TSBOUQB THE OPEN BOOS. 

joung and as iguorant, to read of doubts and Btrng- 
gles the same as their own. There is only one way 
to answer the BceptloiBoi of the day, and that is to 
study as closely as poGsible into its cauaee, and re- 
fute it with intelligeuue equal to the enemy's, I do 
wrong when I call it acepticisin ; for it is not bo 
much that, as tliat the facts of science press qnestiouB 
upon UB which we are troabled to evade — wliich we 
onght not to evade. Truth Bhould not be feared by 
the lover of God. DoubtleBS the Maker can stand by 
His own' works, 1 was in darkness for awhile, as 1 
confessed in my last chapter; but light came ^;ain. 

The first thing tliat brought nie back to reason was 
the reception of Mr. Greydon's letter. It hurt and 
shucked me, beyond words. Was I not the same as 
Aligrc's wife ? Being his, could I bo another man's ) 
But tliere was no Aligre ; my faith was bound to au 
unexistent person — I was free to love and marry 
another man, if I could. I could not. The mere 
idea wronged the dead. With the instinct of fidelity 
I clung to— hia dnstl No. To the paatt No. 
I clung to Aligre himself. I could not act or think 
or feci as if ho were not. In my loneliness and 
misery, I had said that he was lost to me; and yet I 
was incHpable of fi'aming one image of the universe 
witliout giving him his place in it It was unthink- 
able tliat he was not somewhere. As soon as it was 



LIGHT THROUOH THE OPEN DOOR 401 

attempted to niako another take his place, I foand 
my Aligre agaiu — never to lose him, I know now, 
to a certainty. With this certainty, it is not so hard 
a thing to wait. I do not deny that the years look 
long and dull 

** Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to olear ; 
Each sufferer has his saj." 

To walk in the garden at sunset, to sit on the porch 
in the moonlight without him ; to hear Nellie's mirth- 
ful laughter, and see her cling to Harry's arm, as to 
an anchor, at the lightest breeze of trouble; to be 
always alone in this world is not easy. But I am no 
longer desperate — no longer rebellious. 

The cup that Time presses to my lips is bitter, but 
the cup which Eternity holds in waiting will be 
sweet. 

" We shall never know any better than we now do 
die spectre that haunts the world of matter." Then 
why ask of science to explain what can only be 
known from the answers given by our own souls! 
Can we gather grapes of thistles ! — or a knowledge 
of spiritual things from things material? Because 
science does not prove the immortality of Man, are 
we to abandon tlie idea which alone gives to life the 
sweetness of hope and the dignity of completion? 
No. The seeds of immortality in us are not fed by 



402 LIGHT TUBOUOS TEB OPBN DOOB. 

any of tlie elflineiit? of the material universe — the 
root of the flower which is to bloesom throu^rh all 
eternity sucks its aliment from neither matter nor 
force, nor the one primal element to which evea 
these can be resolved : it is sustained on the Spirit of 
God alone. It unfolds ia perfect beauty outside of 
chemistry, of mathematics. It does not lie, happily, 
with the GhristiaD philosopher to pi-ove his claims 
on the future, by any law inherent in tlie physical 
world. The scientists will allow that they have not 
proven the deatructibility of our spiritual essence. 
We assert that they have failed, and must forever 
fail, to account for ideas or moral laws by any pro- 
cess of material laws. A well-nourished brain, 
slightly stimulated by wine or coffee, acts with in- 
creased power ; its " flashes of wit," and the play of 
its fancies are wonderful ; and tlie Investigator may 
bo pardoned for believing that in the brain itself lies 
all the cause of all the effect ; but when he thinks 
further, he is made to feel that it is impossible for 
chemistry to explain why it ia right to tell the truth 
and wrong to lie. Du-Boia Raymond saj-s : "Astro- 
n<)mical knowledge of the brain — the highest grade 
of knowledge wo can ever expect to have — discloses 
to us nothing but matter in motion. But we cannot, 
by means of any imaginable movement of material 
particles, bridge over the chasm between the con- 



JLIQirr TUROUOH THE OPEN DOOR, 403 

Bcious and the unconscious." Nor can physical force 
ever be converted into moral force. The questions 
of science and religion lie far apart. Man may be 
sure that no acquaintance, however intimate, with the 
secrets of nature, will release him from the bonds of 
conscience, or limit the C/Onsequences of his actions 
to the world in which they were acted. 



it 



Fool I aU that is, at all, 
Laato ever, paat recall,** — 



and this must ever be the most terrible punishment 
for our misdeeds. 

Another mistake— the first being to attempt to ac- 
count for spiritual facts by material ones — is to as- 
sert that we have no proof oi the immortality of the 
soul — that we have but an inherited belief, handed 
down from early times. 

We have proof so abundant that it overwhelms us, 
if we once admit tha facts of our spiritual nature. Is 
it not just as much of a fact that it is mean to slan- 
der our neighbor as it is that oxygen and hydrogen 
combine ? The laws of the moral world are as sound 
as laws of the material. There is a principle of justice 
in that world. Without a future life for men, which 
shall be the outgrowth of this life, we should feel 
a consciousness of gross injostiee. The aicikl^^ tha ^ 



404 LIOBT TEBOXTOS TBS OPEIT DOOB. 

wretched, the ignorant, the children of vice bom to 
sin, want and mieer;, have a claim upon the future 
which must be honored. OtherwiM we shoald be 
free to <^arge God with favoritism. 

In every human soal there dwells an ideal of 
a perfect life, of which this one on earth is but 
the faint and distorted image. Is the soul capa- 
ble of mirroring that which does not existt Why 
is it that people fear the march of Science 1 
They tremble, becanee, if called on to surrender 
their expectation of occupying that glorious " un- 
discovered country " beyond tlie grave, they will be 
made poor indeed. But they are alarmed without 
cause. 

The answer to the G^reat Question lies in our 
own conscioiiEiiGSB : there is where we are to look 
for it ; not in the atoms that fly through the imi- 
vetse. They will never yield us a eatisfactory so- 
lution of tlie problem, for the truth is not in them 
but in ourselves. 

The " still, small voice " within telia me that 
Aligi-e lives and that I sliall dwell with him, and 
both of us with God, when Time shall have ceased 
to mark hie periods on the face of Eternity — when 
all the wrongs of Time shall be adjusted by Eternity 
— when all tlie longings of this life shall be satisfied 
in immortality — when weariness is lost in rest 



LIGHT THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR 405 

— ugliness in beauty, pain in pleasure, evil in 
good. 

When I sent Mr. Greydon back to the West to do 
his duty there, unsupported by me, it was not because 
I had no duties of my own. 

Another person, this summer, imagined that he 
had discovered ray mission. Doctor Berthelot, our 
e8teem6d and admired neighbor, ventured to hint 
that in the training of his two sweet little girls I 
might find Christian employment for ray time and 
talents. 

But I have not allowed any one to choose ray 
course for me. I have decided it for myself, and 
aunt and uncle Maxwell do not disapprove of it 
Since I was not to live for myself and Aligre, it is 
plain that I was to live for others. 

1 have concluded to live for the little children — ^for 
the little children who are poor, orphaned, neglected, 
who need a sister to love them and provide for them. 
As uncle supplies ray every want, I have seven 
hundred dollars a year of my own to spend in the 
cause of the little ones; 1 have all ray time, too, 
which is quite as important as money. 

I know that I shall find peace, and a measure of 
contentment, in keeping myself busy in the care of 
others. 

For the rest, I shall have to wait. When my work 



\ 



MbirtM 



/ 



406 LIGHT THROUQE THE OPEN DOOR 

is done here, I will take the love which will not be 
laid away in my coflSn with my mouldering body, 
and carry it to God and Aligre. Allied to the infin- 
ite and the eternal, it will seek its own. In love, we 
find the key that unlocks the mystery lying beyond 
nature. 

Without love, this universe — now so sweet with 
vague hope and pi-omise of the good gifts which our 
Father has in store for us, would be a dreadful drive 
of pitiless mechanism, a Juggernaut crushing beneath 
its slow-rolling wheels the foolish victims of a false 
worship. 

In love we have the motive of life. We have not 
only a God, but a Father. In this assurance we can 
go on, earnestly striving to make the most of our- 
selves, certain that we ai^e not losing our labor — that 
the fruit of our toil is not dead-sea apples of dust 
and death. 

But I am no preacher ; only a poor, struggling girl 
who has crept out of darkness into light. 

When I said that Margaret's marriage was unfortu- 
nate, I meant only that its effect will be to impede 
the free development of a character which sliould 
have been most lovely. Vervelde is making an epi- 
curean of her. She is known as the beautiful and 
witty American in a circle of French wits, whose 
applause is certainly worth having, in one sense. But 



LIGHT THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR. 407 

my dear cousin doubtless suffers from a gnawing 
inward reminder that she is capable of better 
things ; I saw tlie look in her eyes at our last 
meeting. 

Mr. Greydon writes me that the church at Pidgeon 
Wing is completed ; and that, in the autumn, a fair 
young emigrant, who came out to Pidgeon Wing as 
a missionary, will join hands witJi liim. The log- 
cabin in which they are to set up their housekeep- 
ing is rising close to the white frame church. He 
says that he finds comfort in the fact that it is so 
different from the elegant rectory which was once 
his home. 

Whatever happens to him in this world, may he, 
and you, and all my friends, have a common ground 
of acquaintanceship in the next. 

^ * It lies about ns, like a cloud. 
This world we cannot see ; 
And the sweet dosing of an eye 
May bring ns there to be." 

There I shall be with my Aligre, and you with 
vour own beloved ones. 

Of all memories that haunt my lonely way, one is 
most persistent ; night and day I hear the echo of 
that assurance wliich my lover gave me on that 
Sabbath before we wei*e to have been married: 



40S 



LIOET TEBOVQB THE OPEN DOOR 



"Meantime, if I die eaddenly, or away from jou, 
yon miiBt always remember that I do not perisli 
like a brute — that I look for you to keep yonr 
promise and come to me, the same Marion whom 
I left.*" 



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